NAACP cites study in profiling claim; Police refute with data

Marijuana is a controversial topic in a recent ACLU study about drug arrests (Courtesy: WTVO)

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The results of a recent study have the NAACP using the words "racial profiling."

The study has to do with marijuana use. It was conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union, and revealed that even though blacks and whites smoke the drug at approximately the same rate, African Americans are arrested more frequently.

"The racial profiling is still a big issue because we still not only have the sheriff department, we have the police department that actually thinks its alright as long as the end justifies the meanthat they can continue to use racial profiling or use what they call tactics that are not truthful and honest and the reason they are stopping folks," said Dot Scott, President of the Charleston NAACP.

In a press release Monday, the NAACP claims Sheriff Al Cannon said, "This is biased research. This is a case of someone starting off with a theory and then interpreting the facts to support the theory. If you look at the folks in the jail who are charged with marijuana possession, it's almost never the sole charge. It's usually marijuana found incidentally to an arrest on a number of other charges."

Sheriff Cannon was not available for comment Monday, but planned a press conference for 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Sheriff's Office headquarters to "address concerns raised by the Charleston branch of the NAACP."

In that press conference, Cannon said he thought the usage of the report was an effort to legalize marijuana usage. His office also released marijuana arrest statistics for 2011, 2012 and 2013, which shows fairly equal distribution of arrests in the most recent years. In 2011, blacks made of 62 percent of the offender pool. In 2012 and 2013, that number dropped to 55 percent.

Mount Pleasant police also released arrest data for 2012, showing that whites made of more than 77 percent of the marijuana offender pool. Blacks made up 22 percent, the report states.

White males were arrested more often than any demographic, the records show, at 65 percent.

The Charleston NAACP will invite leaders from local law enforcement agencies to attend a town hall meeting in the Fellowship Hall of Morris Brown AME Church on Thursday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m.