Which more accurately stands as the symbol of today’s America?
This topic is showing up in the news only as a consequence of the police shooting story. Residents of this Atlanta community demanded that city officials come talk to them, and city officials got an earful. The kicker? City council members did not know that the law the residents complained about being arrested under even existed. This is representation?
DC-6 is the most frequent non-traffic offense cited by Atlanta police. As of Dec. 18, 7,551 DC-6 arrests — about 22 a day — were made in 2006, outpacing criminal trespass at 5,407 and drinking in public at 4,621.
Some City Council members and city officials weren’t even familiar with the ordinance until it came to their attention at public meetings organized in the wake of the Nov. 21 home-invasion killing by police of an 88-year-old woman.
According to the DC-6 ordinance: “It shall be unlawful for any person [to] … be in or about any place where gaming or the illegal sale or possession of alcoholic beverages or narcotics or dangerous drugs is practiced, allowed or tolerated[.]”
What that means, essentially, is that a person can be arrested simply for being in what police designate as a “known drug area” — even if he or she just walks down the street or chats with a neighbor. That’s problematic, says American Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Gerry Weber, because the law is so ambiguous that it invites discriminatory enforcement and therefore may be unconstitutional.
Weber says the ACLU is seeking the right case for a legal challenge.
WXIA notes, “The problem is nearly half the cases are thrown out of court. And that’s why many consider it a legalized form of police abuse.”
If only PR campaigns were enough….