Don't pretend you're terribly surprised. After all, Kings County (Brooklyn's home) is the county with the most marijuana possession arrests in the state with the most such arrests, according to the ACLU. But what might surprise you is that, if you're black, you're almost ten times more likely to be busted in Brooklyn than if you're white.
Earlier this week, the national ACLU released a study on marijuana arrests. Nationally, 45.7 percent of all drug-related arrests are for marijuana. One of the primary findings of the research was that blacks are more likely to be arrested than whites, in every state except Hawaii. Mapped by state, the ratio of black-to-white marijuana arrests looks like this. The darker the shade of the state in the interactive map below, the more likely a black person is to be arrested than a white person. No ratio is worse than Iowa, where blacks are 8.3 times more likely to be arrested.
But Iowa doesn't have that many marijuana arrests. The reigning champion of arrests for that crime is New York state. New York has 40 percent more marijuana arrests than next next-closest state, Texas.
Today, the NYCLU, the New York-specific branch of the agency, released county-by-county data for the state. The ratio of black-to-white arrests varies around the state, but in some places it's far worse than in Iowa. In Kings (Brooklyn) and New York (Manhattan) counties, the ratio tops 9 — meaning that nine black people are arrested for marijuana crimes to every one white person.
And when you look at the data in terms of raw numbers, New York City reigns. In 2010, there were over 20,000 arrests in Brooklyn alone. That's more than forty entire states.
Why this happened in 2010 is no secret. As the New York Police Department expanded its stop-and-frisk policy, in which people loosely suspected of crimes are stopped on the street and searched, misdemeanor drug crimes like marijuana possession increased.
But anyway: Congratulations, Brooklyn. When it comes to arresting massive numbers of people of color for marijuana crimes, you are Kings County, indeed.