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Community Forum on the Racial Impact of Marijuana Policing
in Westchester County
Thursday, July 26th at 7pm
White Plains Library Auditorium
100 Martine Avenue in White Plains, NY 10601
In a state where racially biased policing is the norm, Westchester County stands out as one of the worst offenders.
Between 2013 and 2017, Black and Latino people were vastly overrepresented among those arrested for marijuana possession relative to their presence in Westchester’s population–despite data showing similar rates of use across populations. While only 14 percent of the County’s residents are Black, Black people comprised over half (52 percent) of those arrested for marijuana possession. Latinx people have also been disproportionately impacted, comprising just 17% of residents, but 34% of arrestees.
This massive increase of Westchester residents involved with the criminal justice system has had significant reverberations. A marijuana arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks.
This public discussion will examine the long-term costs and consequences of unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition in Westchester, solutions to address the harms caused to communities, and efforts to legalize marijuana in New York State while creating a diverse and inclusive industry.
Sponsored by: Drug Policy Alliance, WESPAC Foundation, Westchester Coalition for Police Reform, NYCLU, VOCAL-NY, and more
This is huge news coming out of Albany. A big congratulations to Bill Bastuk and all those on the ITCHY team (It Could Happen to You):
State Senate passes prosecutorial misconduct bill
By Bill Mahoney
06/14/2018 03:14 PM EDT
ALBANY — After a lengthy and substantive debate that divided both parties Thursday, the Senate passed a bill to create a commission on prosecutorial misconduct, setting it up to potentially be one of the most significant bills to be passed by the Legislature at the end of this year’s session.
The measure had become the top priority of Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) in his final weeks before retirement. It would create a panel modeled after the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that would be tasked with investigating complaints made against prosecutors.
“When a bad prosecutor does something that results in somebody losing their liberty, there has got to be a remedy,” DeFrancisco said.
“There’s many cases where individuals are convicted of crimes as heinous as murder and spend 10, 20 years in jail, then found later because of DNA evidence that they weren’t the guilty party,” he added. “So then they go to the state of New York, the Court of Claims, and bring a lawsuit. And the state and our taxpayers have to pay millions of dollars for that misconduct — usually, it’s withholding exculpatory information, information that would help the defense.”
The opposition to the bill was led by state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.
“Prosecutors all the time have to make heart-wrenching decisions about what to do in car crashes where people die,” he said. “What will every family do when a decision is made that manslaughter shouldn’t be charged? They’re going to bring a prosecutor in front of this panel and say, ‘This is misconduct, I want this defendant charged for what they did to my family.’ So when you’re a prosecutor now, evaluating what to do, whether to do justice, which is the only directive, you are going to say, ‘Well, I’ve got this panel … so now we’re going to start charging a couple of vehicular manslaughters to keep us safe.'”
He also argued that the panel, which would be appointed by state government officials, might keep prosecutors from investigating these same officials.
“No prosecutor is going to want to bring a political corruption case when they know that a senator or assemblyperson or someone from the executive chamber is going to get hauled in front of a court, and then [take them] in front of a panel of somebody they appointed,” Kaminsky said.
Nine Republicans voted against the measure, which passed 44-12, though they held their tongues.
While some members were silent, the debate was more substantive than most are in Albany, and the partisan bickering that has defined the chamber in recent weeks never really surfaced.
“This has been fantastic,” said Majority Leader John Flanagan in a rare moment in which he spoke on legislation from the floor. “It makes me proud to be in this room and actually deliberate.”
“It’s probably one of the better debates I’ve seen on the floor in this house in the 16 years I’ve been here,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan).
The bill has yet to pass the Assembly, but Assemblyman Nick Perry (D-Brooklyn), the sponsor in that house, expects that to happen soon.
“I expect it to be taken up shortly,” Perry said. “I don’t think today, but definitely one day next week.”
Based on Gayle Dunkelberger’s successful sketching and water colors at WESPAC, the board would like to continue this type of programming at our social justice center to compliment community forums and planning meetings. Susan Sheppard spent her career with the Greenburgh Central School District as a teacher and has also taught art to teachers at Mercy College. This class will take place once a week for a 90 minute session starting in July. If you are interested, please RSVP to [email protected] by Monday, June 18th and I will then send out a doodle poll to all interested participants so that we can schedule the day and time of the week for this art series based on people’s availability. $20 per class. All contributions to support WESPAC and no one will be turned away for lack of funds:
From Susan: An art journal is a “visual diary.” In addition to (or maybe in place of ) words, the journal keeper uses visual images to portray his/her thoughts and feelings. During these very stressful times an art journal can serve as a little haven in a world of madness.
My vision of this class is having the participants create an art journal over a series of workshops with or without the guidance of prompts combined with a variety of art techniques. For example, for the first class I would like to prepare the first few pages for future work and creating a self-portrait using collage. The prompt would be “The Me Nobody Knows.” The class would occur over several weeks depending on interest. Each participant would have to provide a “journal” (water color pad, composition book, or a hard cover book) , magazines and images that appeal to them, and writing tools of their choice. I would provide other tools and materials.
Some techniques are collage, printing, stenciling, drawing, painting, Zentangle, etc. The prompts can be whole class , personal to the participants, or pulled from a jar.
Here are a few photos. It is hard to see the “moving parts” from photos. The first one is a cover, the others are pages. There are pockets, niches, and pull outs to hold secret thoughts.
At this year’s Summer Solstice, Nathalie “BioDame” Reynoso will lead us in ceremony as we open the space to check in on our milestones. How have our baby-steps added up? What have we mulled over? We’ll press pause and resume for health, happiness, equilibrium, and equity’s sake.
Join us for a healing evening at “Honoring the Summer Solstice through Intercultural Community Ceremony.” The space will facilitate us in honoring our paths and realigning ourselves with what is and is not serving us during this time in which we have the most daylight
..so if you can, allow yourself this time to simply be and charge yourself up with that Community Solstice Sun
(. ❛ ᴗ ❛.)
•Mantra and Manifest Actualization•
Free and Open to the Public
Tuesday June 19, 2018 Led by Local Ceremonialist
6:30pm Nathalie “BioDame” Reynoso
WESPAC Foundation of the Westchester-based
White Plains, NY 10607
On-site Parking Available cer
*Bring items you’d like to add to
Pastor Dr. Gawain de Leeuw is kindly opening up the doors of his church for those of us who would like to take the time to grieve collectively for the dozens of Palestinian lives lost in the Great March of Return. He will lead us in evening prayers and ancient hymns in his tradition, and we will light candles, read the names and ages of the Palestinians who have lost their lives and share what we know of their lived experience and families. For those who are observing fasting this month of Ramadan, we invite folks to bring a dish to share afterwards for a community iftar (breaking of the fast). Please RSVP to Nada at [email protected] if you plan to attend.