The Bartow County and Georgia NAACP branches launched a civil rights investigation on Wednesday into alleged police violations in the arrest of 70 people at a house party in Cartersville, Georgia. The teens and young adults now have arrest records on the charge of allegedly possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana.
“It is our hope the case will not drastically impact the lives of these young people and that justice will be done,” said attorney Gerald A. Griggs, chair of the Georgia NAACP Criminal Justice Committee.
The mass arrest began with Cartersville police officers responding to a 911 call about a possible gunshot around 2 a.m. on Sunday, WSBTV reported. Cops entered the home without a warrant after smelling marijuana in the front yard, a witness told the news outlet. When no one admitted to ownership of the small amount of the drug they discovered, the police arrested everyone. The police later found two stolen guns and other drugs after obtaining a warrant, the police department stated.
The NAACP suspects that the police may have conducted an unlawful search of individuals and the property, which was rented for the party. All of those arrested could not have possessed the same small amount of marijuana, the organization stated. Considering the “changing cultural sentiment” about weed, a simple citation and release would have been more appropriate than arrests. “This is classic police harassment and intimidation,” tweeted Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Many of the partygoers complained about mistreatment from the police, including getting tied up with zip ties and threatened with tasers. Many of them also spent multiple days in jail. A GoFundMe campaign to help with bail and legal fees seeks to raise $15,000. They’ve been dubbed the “Cartersville 70,” which connects them to the long list of Black bodies unjustly arrested, such as the Central Park 5. The campaign noted that a majority of those arrest were college students, military members home for the holidays and hardworking people who could lose their job.