Research finds police are writing more drinking citations to Black and Brown populations.
A new normal resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is to-go margaritas, mimosas, and other cocktails as New York City bars have been forced to close their indoor seating areas. Research finds that the trend is proving problematic for Black and brown communities who are ticketed at higher rates for public drinking.
Gothamist reports that since January, the New York City Police Department issued 1,250 criminal citations for public drinking with 48% going to Black residents, 43% to Hispanic populations and only 7% to white residents. Although alcoholic beverages are available for takeout, the city’s open container law mandates that drinking outdoors is still illegal.
“The NYPD enforces the law fairly and equally, and works tirelessly every day to keep every resident and every neighborhood safe,” NYPD spokesman Al Baker said in a statement to Gothamist.
The harsh differences in ticketing have called for some to push for open container laws to be rescinded.
“I don’t think it is productive to have a law on the books with this kind of gray area of enforcement,” writes Shabazz Stuart, a transportation policy advocate, in an op-ed according to Gothamist.
He continues, “I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it is conducive to a healthy society.”
Gothamist reports Stuart believes open container laws are used to target and unlawfully search young men of color.
“If you grow up in a community like mine, you understand, word gets out, right? You understand the culture of fear that exists around police officers,” he tells Gothamist.
New York Assemblymember Robert Carroll introduced a bill earlier this year to ban open container laws.
Usually, the simplest solution is the best solution,” Carroll says to Gothamist. He continues, “and this is the simplest solution, they do it across the globe.”
Still, the bill currently has only three other sponsors and has little likelihood of passing anytime soon, reports Gothamist. Governor Andrew Cuomo has spoken out against outdoor alcohol consumption amid social distancing,
Others think the focus should not be on changing the law but reforming the police. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, says people should not walk around under the influence and the police should adjust their enforcement.
“I don’t think people should be walking around drunk. I don’t think they should be walking around high. I do know that if there are laws on the books, at minimum, they should be applied equally, equitably across the board. And that just isn’t done,” says Williams to Gothamist.
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