Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo speaking during a security news conference in advance of the Super Bowl 52 football game, on Jan. 31, 2018. On Thursday, Arradondo said police will no longer arrest people for selling small amounts of marijuana. Matt Slocum/AP hide caption
toggle caption Matt Slocum/AP
The Minneapolis Police Department is ending undercover enforcement of laws against low-level marijuana sales. Mayor Jacob Frey directed the department to end the sting operations over concerns that black men were being disproportionately targeted.
The Minneapolis Police Department said violent crime in a targeted two-block stretch of downtown has dropped by nearly a third compared to the same time last year.
But at a news conference Thursday, Chief Medaria Arradondo acknowledged that his undercover officers also had arrested dozens of African-American men just for selling small amounts of marijuana.
“We took a look back and we analyzed and we saw that, while we were making the arrests and we were keeping guns off the streets down there, we were seeing a segment of the population that was being disproportionately impacted,” he said.
Arradondo said African-Americans were not targeted, and officers acted in a procedurally just way.
But Mary Moriarty, Hennepin County’s Chief Public Defender, said 46 of the 47 people arrested for selling pot during the sting were black and low-income.
Moriarty said the defendants her office represents weren’t accused of minor drug offenses — prosecutors charged each of them with a felony for selling a few joints worth of weed. In Minnesota, possession of fewer than 42.5 grams is a petty misdemeanor, similar to a traffic ticket.
“But by virtue of the fact that police were approaching people and buying one or two grams, those people wound