America is seeing firsthand how simple possession of either tobacco and/or vape pens can have at times fatal consequences for Black men at the hands of law enforcement. Elected officials in the city of Los Angeles should take note, as they consider implementing a ban on these products which could have similar ramifications on Los Angeles residents.
The latest viral video comes from Ocean City, Maryland, as officers attempted to enforce a vape ban on a popular boardwalk.
Police encountered a group of Black men vaping on the boardwalk and approached them stating they could only smoke in designated areas. Officers allege, that after giving the warning, the young men began to use the vape pens, while walking away.
Police further allege Brian Everett Anderson, 19, Kamere Anthony Day, 19, and Jahtique Joseph John Lewis, 18, then became disruptive and resisted arrest.
Videos show the teens being tased, and hog tied, which city officials claim is allowable.
Ocean City officials pledged to review the officers’ actions but also noted in a news release, “Our officers are permitted to use force, per their training, to overcome exhibited resistance.”
But is this the message elected officials want to use taxpayer funded officers for: beating and tasing the city’s youth for enforcing a tobacco/vape ordinance? Organizations who support a ban on tobacco getting into the hands of youth, also found the officers behavior, while attempting to enforce the ban, egregious.
We are horrified and outraged by the incident of police violence against Black teenagers in Ocean City, MD, this weekend and there is absolutely no place for violence and abuse in enforcing tobacco laws. The purpose of such laws is to keep people safe and healthy. Our communities cannot be safe and healthy when police choose to enforce these laws with violence. Often disproportionately against Black and Brown people. There must be a full investigation of this incident and accountability for the use of force against these young people.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
In the city of Los Angeles, police officers came under fire for use of less lethal projectiles to disperse crowds related to protests over police brutality. A judge was forced to intervene when the victims demanded the practice be stopped, many of the victims were journalists.
Residents have grown tired of elected officials weaponizing the police against citizens under the guise of “resisting arrest”. The most notable case was here in Los Angeles.
On July 22, 2012, South LA resident Alesia Thomas was placed under arrest by Los Angeles Police Department officer Mary O’Callaghan, when it was alleged Thomas resisted arrest and became combative after officers knocked on her door after Thomas surrendered her child to a local police station.
LAPD issued press releases that circulated around the country, that Thomas was high on drugs, became combative while being placed under arrest, and was observed attempting to kick out the windows of a patrol car.
It wasn’t until the jury saw video from the patrol car that those statements were outright lies. O’Callaghan was found guilty of abuse under the color of her authority, and news media were forced to remove all references of LAPD’s initial press release, after 2UrbanGirls provided graphic details of the patrol car footage.
It is not above the “bad apples” of police departments to give statements that are not true, to justify the abuse directed at citizens for what they call “resisting arrest”.
As cities move out of a global pandemic, that devastated city coffers, record unemployment, and homelessness, the last thing Angelenos needs or wants is a ban on a product that is legal to purchase, under the guise of “public health” issues.
The city of Los Angeles should look to the city of Inglewood, who conduct underage decoy operations focusing on tobacco retailers that sell tobacco products to persons under the legal age to purchase.
According to a press release issued by the Inglewood Police Department, the operation is to reduce the availability of tobacco to underage individuals because of the associated health risks.
Some tobacco retailers began receiving citations for selling and furnishing tobacco to minors in violation of penal code 308(a).
The city of Los Angeles needs to explore all possible options before implementing a ban that would further deplete city revenue, and in turn reduce services to an already stressed constituency struggling to get back on their feet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.