Diana Ayala Hosts Community Forum on the Opioid Crisis, Tonight

Tonight, at 5:00 PM, Council Member Ayala is hosting a community conversation on the opioid epidemic.

Join her, city officials, community leaders, and East Harlem neighbors in a wide-ranging (in-person) discussion about what she plans to do about the open air drug dealing and drug using that has inundated our community.


Please come out and bring your perspective and questions.

The forum will be held tonight at 5PM in La Marqueta, Park Avenue, under the train, between 116 and 115th Streets.

East 125th Street

Drug Arrests

Vice has a fascinating look at how drug arrests have plummeted in the decade from 2009 to 2019:

https://www.vice.com/en/article/dy8k97/how-new-york-quietly-ended-its-street-drug-war

Just this visualization (below), showing the massive drop in the number of NYC drug arrests in 2009 to 2019 (red line) and the number of drug convictions from 2009 to 2019 (white line) is stunning:

The question of why this is happening, and the article makes clear that this is not simply a drop in arrests/convictions of marijuana, it represents all drugs and all arrests. Ultimately, activists, and pressure on city hall, city council, and the NYPD itself has led to this ski slope drop in arrests/convictions.

The article notes that:

the decision to curtail the mass arresting and jailing of non-violent drug offenders was a deliberate move by the authorities in response to prolonged pressure from activists and outraged New Yorkers—in particular from the communities most impacted by them. 

It’s also important to note that NYC is somewhat of an outlier. The rest of the US continues to focus on small scale possession and sales with the exception of some cities, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and St. Louis. However…

… the latest FBI national data shows that despite increasing cannabis legalization, drug arrests have stubbornly refused to fall. More people are being arrested for drugs in the U.S. than for any other reason. In 2009 there were 1.6 million drug arrests, which dipped to 1.4 million in 2015 but went back up to 1.5 million in 2019. Many cities still have the stop-and-frisk tactics they adopted from New York more than a decade ago. 

The article notes that by the late 1990s, as the street violence started to fall, pedestrian stops resulting in body searches just kept on spiralling. Instead of guns and crack, officers were mainly picking people up for low-level cannabis offenses, criminalizing tens of thousands of non-violent New Yorkers. Between 2002 and 2012, according to a joint report by the DPA and Marijuana Arrest Research Project, the NYPD made 440,000 arrests for cannabis possession, which took up more than one million hours of police time.  

And, to no one’s surprise, young Black men are still being arrested for drug offenses at significantly higher rates than young white men.  

These disproportionate arrest figures are not just about police bias; they are about structural racism, a reflection of the consequence of embedded social exclusion. Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are twice as likely to live in poverty, or live in near-poverty, as white or Asian New Yorkers, and there’s a harsh reality to the drug business: People who are locked out of the mainstream economy are more likely than others to resort to the drug trade to get by. What’s more, people living in poorer neighborhoods are also more likely to be picked up by police, who target these areas.

New Cafe?

Is a new cafe/bakery going to open in the old Jahlookova site?

We’ve seen work going on here, and heard chatter about a new cafe on Madison…