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Syracuse Crime Data: Black men made up 80 percent of marijuana arrests over year period

Syracuse police data obtained by CNYCentral shows a disproportionate number of black men were arrested for marijuana possession over a year period in Syracuse, following national trends (CNYCentral Photo).

It's a national trend that data shows Syracuse follows: black men make up a disproportionate number of marijuana arrests in the city, according to statistics obtained by CNYCentral.

Records received through a Freedom of Information Act request show from September 1, 2017 to September 1, 2018, there were 2,637 men arrested for marijuana possession in the city of Syracuse.

2,093 of those arrests were black men, accounting for 79.37 percent of the arrests during that time period. 528 white men accounted for 20 percent of the arrests, even though data from the U.S. Census shows the city's white population is nearly double the black population.

Read the report below (Mobile app users, click here):

CNYCentral brought the data to Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

"That's something we're very sensitive to. It is certainly not unique to the City of Syracuse. This is the case throughout the country and it's something we need to be open and honest about as we tackle this issue,” Walsh said.

With Democrats controlling both houses of the New York State Legislature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said legalizing marijuana in New York would be part of his 100 Day Agenda.

However, it now looks as if marijuana legalization won’t be a part of the state budget due April 1. Gov. Cuomo says there are too many details that lawmakers don’t agree on yet.

Some black lawmakers say the current proposal doesn’t do enough to address the harm marijuana penalties have done to people of color, saying some of the billions of dollars that would come to the state through legalization should benefit them.

Mayor Walsh, who has been watching developments on the legalization process closely, agrees.

"The laws that we have on the books have disproportionately impacted certain communities and if there is an opportunity to address that through this process in a way that supports those communities,” he said.

Syracuse’s Chief of Police Kenton Buckner says racial disparity can be seen throughout the criminal justice system.

"There are a lot of things that are disproportionate, Chief Buckner said. “Many of which that involve the police and I think that we certainly need to make sure that we are doing business the right way."

According to reports from the Associated Press, if legalization isn’t in the April 1 budget, lawmakers could still take up legalization in separate measures before they adjourn in June. If not, it's questionable if legalization will happen this year.


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