Minneapolis, MN — 31 African Americans who were arrested and charged for small-scale marijuana sales have been discharged and 16 more are awaiting dismissal. It happened following the decision of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to discontinue the low-level marijuana stings that have allegedly seemed to be racial profiling.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, the city’s first Black police chief, announced last week that the authorities would no longer conduct sting operations targeting low-level marijuana sales after discovering that almost everyone arrested was Black. Hennepin County Public Defender’s office determined that 46 out of 47 who were arrested selling marijuana on Hennepin were Black. All the arrests “have resulted in felony convictions for numerous black defendants who had been targeted, and all the devastating collateral consequences that go along with such convictions: jail time, prison time, and even deportation proceedings,” Assistant County Public Defender Jess Braverman stated in a court document.
Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty thought it was blatant racial profiling. She contacted Mayor Jacob Frey who pledged he would do something about the issue. Mayor Frey eventually directed Police Chief Arradondo to stop the stings.
“I believe strongly that marijuana should be a lowest-level enforcement priority and that it should be fully legalized at the state level,” Frey said in a statement. “The fact that racial disparities are so common nationwide in the enforcement of marijuana laws is one of the reasons I support full legalization.”
Now that the charges are dropped, they would not stay in jail anymore and they could go home. But Moriarty said it is not yet the end. She hopes that the long-term effects would be fixed and that prosecutors join motions to expunge the arrest and charges.
“Even though the cases are dismissed, having an arrest and charge on their records will create problems for employment and rental housing,” she said.