I remember some months ago, I was on Flatbush Avenue, crossing the street toward the vegetable market near Maple St.
I saw several Black young men lined up, hands behind backs, as guys in plain clothes, obviously cops, searched them. I shrugged and moved on.
It was only weeks afterward, when I questioned a police officials at a community meeting, that I learned the youngsters had been busted for marijuana.
Not robbery, or even menacing; but pot!
Lives already steeped in hopelessness now carry arrest records over weed? Even as the ones who arrested them are free to go on drinking binges more dangerous to life and limb than any reefer fling?
Now comes a New York magazine piece making the case that Michael Bloomberg has been allowing, and for all we know, consciously pushing, this targeting of Black and Latino young men in the city.
The article, by Mark Jacobson, says the policy descends from the old "broken windows" thesis of Rudy Giuliani's years (basically that if you stop and arrest those who break windows, you'll lower the crime rate for burglaries and robberies).
Okay enough. But the resulting victimization of tens or hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino men in the city makes this a ripe matter the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department, it would seem.
We'll direct you, of course, to the whole New York Magazine article -- upon which we, at this very moment, bestow the much coveted Central Brooklyn Award for Truth-Telling.
But first we'll extract some of the most relevant sections, since they are buried relatively deep in the piece -- not necessarily a criticism of the writer, since it's all done with style and a literary build-up.
For instance: That New York City is the marijuana-arrest capital of the country and maybe the world. (read on)
And that the policy being pursued in New York City has a long and very racial past. (read on)
And that a white dealer named "Francis" says whites don't worry about being picked up for pot, because they never are; and that he'd never use a Black kid as one of his sellers, because a Black kid is bound to be busted in New York City. (read on)