Police in Cartersville, Georgia responded to a call of apparent gunshots on Saturday night, but what they found was a house party with nearly 100 people celebrating a 21st birthday.
When police arrived at the scene, something led them to believe there were drugs on the property. They reportedly entered the house without the permission of the partygoers, and after less than one ounce of marijuana was discovered by officers, 63 attendees were arrested and sent to jail because no claimed the drugs as theirs.
In interviews given to Atlanta’s Channel 2 Action News, some of the attendees claimed they were tied up with zip ties and threatened with tasers. Some of the men claimed they were locked up in cages.
According to the partygoers, it was fireworks, not gunshots, that were likely heard by the individual who called the police.
“I was throwing up water,” one of the arrested attendees, a pregnant woman, told Channel 2. “The whole saying ‘innocent until proven guilty’ went out the window. They told me I was an unfit person to have a baby.”
According to jail records, the 63 individuals who were arrested Saturday night were processed by Monday night. All were charged with a single count of marijuana possession. The individuals arrested were predominantly black males aged 19 to 25. Channel 2 reports some have lost their jobs as a result of spending multiple days in jail.
In Athens, Georgia, a city with a similar racial makeup as Cartersville, black individuals were found to be 4.7 times more likely to be charged with a marijuana violation than white individuals. The same discrepancy exists on the national level as well.
According to a 2013 American Civil Liberties Union report titled, “The War on Marijuana In Black and White,” a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, even though both groups use marijuana at similar rates.
This pattern continues even in states where marijuana is legal. Between 2008 and 2014, marijuana arrests decreased by 60 percent in Colorado and 90 percent in Washington, both states that have legalized marijuana use. A study conducted by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice’s Mike Males, however, concluded that black people in 2008 and 2014 were twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana — in both states.