Overzealous cops, loyalty and a little bit of weed led to the arrests of approximately 70 party-goers over the weekend according to WSB-TV.
Deja Heard celebrated her 21st birthday with a lingerie-themed party in Cartersville, Georgia. But the celebration was halted early Sunday morning. While police were searching for the source of reported gunfire in the area, they claimed to smell marijuana from the AirBnB being rented out by Heard for her party.
When police entered the premises — sans a search warrant — they discovered marijuana. When no one would claim it or say who it belonged to, they arrested everyone at the party. Ages of the attendees ranged from 15 to 31 years old. The Cartersville Daily Tribune noted the majority of them were young Black men. One of the attendees arrested, Austen Davis, said while outside, police told them they were only placing them in a police van to keep them warm.
In a press release obtained by WBHF radio, police say they arrested everyone because any of them could have had access to the marijuana.
“All the subjects at the residence were placed under arrest for the possession of the suspected marijuana which was within everyone’s reach or control,” the Bartow Cartersville Drug Task Force said in the release.
Police said they found less than an ounce of marijuana at a house party Saturday night & since no one claimed it, they arrested 70ppl for it. Some just got out today. Story at 5pm on Ch2 pic.twitter.com/OA2xQFdGX3
— Tyisha Fernandes (@TyishaWSB) January 2, 2018
Several claimed they were mistreated by the arresting officers. Some were in jail for as long as three days and said they underwent horrendous experiences including a pregnant woman.
“I was throwing up water,” she told WSB-TV of her time in jail. “The whole saying ‘innocent until proven guilty’ went out the window. They told me I was an unfit person to have a baby.”
Others claim officers used zip ties to bound them, were threatened with tasers and several of the men alleged they were locked in cages while in the jail. Many of the party-goers have lost their jobs as a result of the arrests and detainment and are concerned they will now have a criminal record. A number of the attendees are plan on taking legal action. The news outlet reports the NAACP has been informed about the incident and has offered their services.
Police sent pictures of the small amounts of weed and several guns they confiscated at the party
as if people still associate weed with criminality and the constitution doesn’t grant the right to bear arms. There has been no statement in regards to whether the guns were purchased illegally.
A GoFundMe campaign titled “Justice for the Cartersville 70” has been created to aid those arrested with legal fees.
“Some of these young people need money to make bail and all of them need assistance with their legal fees,” the campaign page reads. “A good majority of these individuals are college students and members of the U.S. military who were visiting home over the holiday break, and decided to attend a party to catch up with old friends while in town.”
“Others were working citizens who lost their jobs the second they walked into work this morning,” the description continues. “They need your help to bring justice and light to the unjust treatment these individuals experienced leading to and during their incarceration.”
Reforms on marijuana laws continue to take place throughout the nation as people continue to advocate against the lifelong ramifications of marijuana arrests that disproportionately affect Black Americans. In a number of cities, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is only punished with a $100 fine.