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Monday, February 22, 2016

Report: Black Tenderloin Drug Dealers Definitely Arrested More Often Than Whites, Latinos

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 7:00 AM

By now, you may have heard of "Operation Safe Schools," a joint San Francisco Police Department/Drug Enforcement Administration sweep of the Tenderloin meant to crack down on drug dealing near schools.

About three dozen people have been arrested since 2013. They have been charged in federal court, which means tougher mandatory minimums than state court. And every single person arrested is African-American

The defendants are fighting their cases, alleging racially-biased selective prosecution. SFPD and the United States Attorney have defended the arrests, and swear that race had nothing to do with the busts. That's a thin defense, and appears even thinner based on the findings of a study of Tenderloin drug dealers.

According to Tenderloin drug users — who ought to know — black people are only about 50 percent of the drug dealers in the Tenderloin. Yet black people are about two-thirds of the people arrested for drug dealing and charged in state court — and 100 percent of the people arrested and charged in federal court under Operation Safe Schools.

The study, conducted by Katherine Beckett, a researcher at the University of Washington, was based off of survey results from participants in a needle exchange program.

Beckett received data from 440 drug transactions, and according to the buyers, drugs were bought from a black person half of the time, a Latino person about 20 percent of the time, and white people about 16 percent of the time.

click to enlarge black_2.jpg

And, as usual, arrest stats are disproportionate. Black and Latino people are over-represented, and white people are under-represented, according to the report.

Of the suspects arrested and charged in local court, about 60 percent are black.

click to enlarge black_1.jpg

And, just to really drive the point home, here's what the arrestees in the federal sting look like.

click to enlarge black_3.jpg

"Statistical analyses indicates that these differences are highly statistically significant and extremely unlikely to be
the product of chance," Beckett wrote — which is a nice way of saying that it's a statistical certainty that the black people arrested in Operation Safe Schools were arrested because they were black.

Let's not forget that Tenderloin officers, and one cop in particular — Sgt. Shaughn Ryan — has been accused by some of the Safe Schools defendants of using racially and sexually-biased language.  

So. The drug war is racially biased. In other news, the sky is blue.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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