Busted in Manhattan by Bloomberg’s Anti-Pot GoonsTuesday, 01 January 2013 by Anonymous
I’m 58 years old and have resided in my 220-year-old house in New England for the last 30 years. I live alone with my dog and cats. I’m a cancer survivor. I feel like I work hard, sometimes seven days a week, to make my small alternative energy company a success. I pay my taxes and when, many years ago, I ran into tax trouble, I did not declare bankruptcy and paid every dime I owed to the IRS. I don’t think I bother anybody. But yes, I smoke a little marijuana, have for around 40 years.
I grew up in New York City, was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx. I drove a cab in Manhattan in the '70s. I still have some friends in NYC. My old buddy of 50 years contacted me and asked if I’d like to come down to see one of the Phish shows at Madison Square Garden for their New Year’s run. He had tickets for Saturday night and I jumped at the chance to see old friends and catch Phish live.
On Saturday (Dec. 28), we drove to Manhattan, arriving around 6:30 pm, and decided to look for a parking garage and pay for parking rather than look for a free spot on the streets. We entered the Park 'N Lock garage on 30 St. between 7th and 8th Aves., a block away the Garden. We circled up to the fourth floor and parked. As we opened the door to my truck and stepped out, NYPD officers immediately surrounded us. They said they smelled marijuana. They pulled us away and proceeded to search my Chevy Tahoe. They found a small container of marijuana, a glass bowl and the roach.
We were handcuffed behind out backs, extremely tight and painful, and shoved into the elevator, taken downstairs and marched, like Taliban POWs, to a waiting police van on 31 St.. We were not read our Miranda Rights. There we saw many other concerts goers in the same situation. In front of many passersby, we were searched. Everything in our pockets was placed in manila envelopes. We were packed into an incredibly tight and narrow van with only room for our hunched-over bodies. They kept us sardined there for what seemed like forever. I was in horrible pain, the circulation being cut off by the handcuffs, my back hurting as well as my knee that had surgery. I really was in disbelief that this was happening to me, just days from 2013, because a cop smelled marijuana smoke when I opened my truck door on the fourth floor of a private parking garage. I was thinking, on one side of this country you can buy pot from a store, on the other side you get arrested and tortured. Was this really happening to me?
Eventually the van started moving and, after a short ride, we arrived at the 14th Precinct (Midtown South on 35 St.). They took all our belongings - coats, sweaters, hoodies, shoes and belts - and were left in just t-shirts, jeans and socks. When the handcuffs were finally removed, leaving deep marks on my wrists, I realized I had no feeling in part of my right hand. When I put my hands in front of me to move them around after being injured by the handcuffs, I was screamed at by the police officer to put my hands to my side, don’t move or we’ll put the cuffs back on. “They were not made for comfort,” the cop barked.
I was put in disgusting holding cell, and another poor dude in the same situation eventually joined me. The cell was about 6 x 8 feet with a gross toilet and a bench. It was cold. We were kept there for 10 hours. I'm diabetic and had had nothing to eat or drink since noon. At around 3 am I was escorted to get fingerprinted and have my picture taken. I told the officer that I was diabetic and was going to pass out. He fetched me some peanut butter crackers and a bottle of water. He said we would be getting out soon and that this was just a violation, a “slap on the wrist” and we would get dates to come back to court.
I’ve been charged with PL 220.10.01:
PL 221.10 01. That charge, in full form, reads as follows: § 221.10 Criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree. A person is guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses: 1. marihuana in a public place, as defined in section 240.00 of this chapter, and such marihuana is burning or open to public view; or 2. one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than twenty-five grams. Criminal possession of marihuana in the fifth degree is a class B misdemeanor.
This is called a “ticketable” offense. But, I was not in a public place; I had no marijuana burning or open to public view and even if someone was, what other “ticketable” offenses in New York are accompanied by torture? We got caught in a police “Phish Net" (it was like shooting Phish in a barrel). NYC police officers were hiding out on the fourth floor of a private parking garage looking for pot smokers to arrest and torture. Our guess is that they busted about 100 Phish heads that night.
As we were released with DATs (Desk Appearance Tickets) at 4:20 am, I noticed the memorials to the large number of police officer heroes from that precinct who died trying save people on 9/11 by rushing into those burning towers. Is this how they honor the memory of their fellow officers? Is this how the NYPD helps fight terrorism and keeps its citizens safe? Am I really one of the dangerous criminals they need to keep off the streets or was I just “low-hanging fruit” they can grab to bolster their staggering arrest numbers (50,000 marijuana busts a year in New York City alone) and take our money in fines? The police officers seemed to really enjoy this “operation," it being much more fun than stopping an actual armed, violent criminal.
I went to the hospital when I got back home and learned I have a nerve injury to my right hand. I still have no feeling in part of my hand. The doctor said it usually gets better, but not always.
Because I'm scheduled to go to court to face the "marihuana" charge next month, I’ve chosen to remain anonymous. But I want to share this story. This must stop. There is no legitimate reason for this persecution of marijuana smokers to continue.