Law enforcement has settled a lawsuit over the mass arrests of 64 Georgia partygoers on marijuana charges, reports Yahoo! News. Cops charged each of the individuals at the lingerie-themed party with possession of under an ounce of marijuana.
The cops claimed they did this because the weed was within “everyone’s reach or control.”
But the only relevant ”reach” here is the wild OVER-reach by law enforcement.
Gerald Griggs, an attorney and past vice president of the Georgia NAACP, realized this self-evident fact. Griggs organized a campaign to get all charges dropped.
“It’s a very large settlement,” Griggs said, reports WSB-TV. ”So it sends a message to Georgia that if you violate somebody’s civil rights, the NAACP and civil rights attorneys will hold you to task and protect those young peoples’ rights.”
Inept Police. Hapless Deputies. Laughable Task Force.
The defendants are the inept Cartersville Police Department, the hapless Bartow County Sheriff’s Office and the laughable Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force.
They’ll pay out $900,000 as part of the settlement, the Southern Center for Human Rights reports.
The Southern Center for Human Rights and Marietta-based Merchant Law Firm filed the lawsuit.
This Nonsense Has Stretched On For 4+ Years
Cartersville Police came to a home on New Year’s Eve 2017 after getting reports of alleged gunshots. Officers claimed they smelled marijuana and entered the house without consent or a warrant, the Southern Center says.
Dozens of people ranging in age from 15 to 30 – the majority of whom were Black and other minorities — were attending a birthday party at the home.
Police, who found less than an ounce of marijuana outside on the ground, arrested all 64 partygoers. They said they did this because nobody would claim the weed.
“I literally was in shackles from my arms, and they were tied around my ankles as well — it was very traumatic,” said Deja Heard.
Heard says she’ll never forget what happened at her 21st birthday party when she rented out A Cartersville home through Airbnb to celebrate with her friends.
“It’s an issue not just with Blacks. I feel like this is an issue with everyone in my community with corrupt police,” Heard said.
“It’s OK to be wrong sometimes. And we’re all human, we all make mistakes,” Heard said. “Just going forward, correct yourselves. Apologize. I mean, yes, a settlement, like I said I’m very greatly appreciative of it, but no one has actually sat down and said that we apologize for being in the wrong, we’re sorry for what we did to you, we’re sorry for treating you inhumane.”
“Insufficient To Convict”
The Drug Task Force claimed there was evidence of “widespread drug use.” They charged 64 people were charged with possession of marijuana.
Representatives from the city of Cartersville didn’t respond to requests for comment. About two weeks later after the arrests, the Bartow County district attorney dropped the charges.
The DA admitted the evidence was “insufficient to convict” any of the 64 defendants.
Ebony Brown, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights, said officers immediately treated everyone at the party like suspects.
“This type of guilt-by-association policing is ripe for the abuses you see here, and the real-world consequences for people like our plaintiffs are devastating,” Brown said.
John Merchant of The Merchant Law Firm said officers had plenty of time to investigate the circumstances before raiding the home. Merchant said the officers arrested his clients “simply for being present at the party.”
Cartersville Doesn’t Change Its Policy
“We are happy we were able to resolve the case, and we remain hopeful that these agencies will make the necessary changes to ensure this does not happen again,” he said.
Despite the settlement, the Southern Center says the city of Cartersville has not amended its policy. That’s the crux of the problem, after all: a policy that allows officers to enter homes when they claim they smell what they think is marijuana.
Of course, if these idiot cops are willing to pay folks in excess of $10,000 apiece for the pleasure of wrongly arresting them… Well, then, one supposes one can’t in good conscience deny them.
Unless, well … you pay taxes in Cartersville, or Bartow County, Georgia, that is … In which case, folks, you have yourselves a big problem.