In this video, Josette Blocker tells the story of her nephew Demonte Ward-Blake's experience of the police stopping and searching him based on the smell of marijuana.
The police stopping and searching anyone based solely on the smell of marijuana – is archaic. It is routinely used to infringe on individuals’ right to privacy, which allows the police to justify racial profiling. In Maryland, police stop Black drivers more frequently than any other race, and probable cause to search is used to justify 67 percent of searches. This is abhorrent and unacceptable.
Take action to reduce police interactions and adequately end the criminalization of marijuana as we move towards legalization.
Video edited by Nehemiah Bester and Alicia Smith.
Speaker: Josette Blocker
On October 17, 2019, Demonte Ward-Blake was stopped. It was a traffic stop regarding suspended tags. He and the officer got into a conversation that kind of like escalated and the officer, I want to say that he escalated by not listening to my nephew make his concerns because of the goddaughter that was in the car with him at the time.
His girlfriend's daughter. And so the officer got irate and in his feelings, I feel. I think he took it on a personal note and then escalated the suspended tax situation to, oh, I smell marijuana, I need to check this vehicle. That stop, because of the officer's inability to de-escalate the situation between he and Demonte, allowed him to take circumstances into his own hands and he threw my nephew down on the ground, head first, which caused him to have a broken nose.
They broke his neck and then broke his back. Just because you smelt marijuana? Just because the tags weren't registered or suspended, it took all of that? Gosh, when you sit back and think, its like gosh it's just been so many days, like it's been years and this this thing still hurts like it's it's it was yesterday. We're right we're bordering Washington, D.C. We're bordering Virginia.
Now if Virginia is saying we're not going to mess with you on odor, then we got to get on board, too. The purpose of these legislators is to help the communities. Why are we paying taxes to send these young Black and Brown men to jail?