Blacks are dramatically more likely than whites to be arrested or ticketed for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Evanston.

Figures from the Evanston Police Department to be presented at tonight’s Human Services Committee meeting indicate that of the 77 people who were arrested or ticketed for cannabis violations during the second quarter of this year 61 percent were black, 25 percent were white and 18 percent were Hispanic.

Given the population demographics of the city, that means that blacks were more than three times as likely to be involved in a marijuana offense than their share of the population would indicate, while whites were nearly three times less likely to involved in such an incident, while Hispanics were about twice as likely to be caught.

The data provided doesn’t indicate how many of those arrested were Evanston residents.

Numerous studies have indicated a wide racial disparity across the country in the arrest rates for marijuana possession, while there’s little evidence that blacks are more likely to use pot than whites.

Activist groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have suggested that billions of dollars are being wasted on racially biased arrests.

A few years ago Evanston revised its cannabis ordinance to shift toward issuing citations handled in the city’s administrative adjudication process for most instances of possession of small amounts of marijuana — in an effort to reduce the likelihood that pot smokers would end up with criminal records.

But police retain the discretion to instead file state criminal charges — often when other violations are also associated with the arrest.

Just 16 of the second quarter pot possession cases ended up in Circuit Court — but in three quarters of those that did, the defendants were black.

The typical person arrested or ticketed for pot possession is young — with a median age of 22 years. The oldest person nabbed during the second quarter was 55. Eighty-three percent of those arrested were males.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. You can’t draw conclusions from statistics

    While I'm sure the numbers are accurate, you cannot draw conclusion simply based on numbers. For example, were all of those arrested for pot Evanston residents, or were they just visiting? If they were just visiting, it would skew the numbers and make it look like one racial group was targeted as their arrest rate is higher than their population percentages.

  2. Things that make ya go, hmmm?
    Are there no Asians living in Evanston? Are there no American Indian, Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders in Evanston?

    Question: Of the three categories listed in the graph, which one is unlike the other?

    Answer: Hispanic (it’s not a race, it’s an ethnicity). Then of course there are “white hispanics” as we have read in the media, describing George Zimmerman.

    Notice that males are disproportionately getting busted for pot. Why is that? Shouldn’t we be more worried about gender biased arrests?

    My point – the data presented here and by the Evanston Police Department is wholly incomplete. There’s not enough here to make ANY sensible conclusion.

    Bias in the media is what is LEFT OUT rather than what is presented.

    1. Police bias?

      Let's all justify away the very real police bias that exists in this country that disproportionately targets minorities, specifically black males. Let's wake up folks, Evanston has police bias and systemic racism just like all other American cities. I don't understand why everyone is so defensive of that simple, obvious sentiment. These statistics are real numbers comparing the treatment of white and brown folks by police in our community. Evanston is 66% white and 18% black–this demographic breakdown makes these disproportionate arrest rates even more glaringly problematic.

      1. I was born on the south side
        I was born on the south side of Chicago in 1960. I moved to Highland Park from grades 6-9, and then I went to high school in Weston, CT and Fairfield, CT….
        I ended up accepting a football scholarship to Northwestern where I played football and baseball in the late ’70’s / early ’80’s… I lived in Evanston for 6 years.
        I should add that I’m black.
        It’s the same old story. i would say that I’ve been – pulled over while driving, for no reason, “stop and-frisked,” looked at sideways by police, even a gun drawn on me. … upwards of 100 times in cities throughout America. The “times” are different, but the same thing goes on. Sometimes the black cops are worse than the white cops. it doesn’t matter. The only thing that’s changed is that the media has gotten involved. Good, bad, or otherwise, without the media, there would be less “noise.” Now that i have children, it all presents new challenges. I know one thing, I’m sick and tired of it all…

        1. That’s terrible


          That's a terrible experience that you have suffered through and no person regardless of color should have to put up with. But the facts are that most of the crime in this country is done by black people. This is especially true in Evanston. I watch the local news and see blacks shooting other blacks almost every day. Why is that? This is the root problem that needs to be cured, Once that is done, police bias should lessen. Hope you find the world to be a better place.

          1. The statistics are portraying

            The statistics are portraying arrests for small amounts of pot not violent crime. More white ppl in Evanston smoke pot than black ppl but more black ppl get arrested for possesion. Now that should be alarming to everybody. #Blacklivesmatter

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