Sheriff Cannon addresses problems with racial bias allegations

Sheriff Cannon addresses problems with racial bias allegations

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon squashed the idea his deputies have a racial bias when making marijuana arrests within county limits.

Cannon addressed remarks from the local chapter NAACP president Dot Scott and a report published by the ACLU on Tuesday alleging the opposite.

"We are going to where crime problems are and we are being forceful of laws and in particular drug related laws and we are treating all of those that we encounter the same," says Cannon.

Cannon told reporters he had a handful of problems with the reports findings and in no way do his deputies arrest people because of their race.

"We certainly put people in jail for simple possession of marijuana but it's not based on the result of targeting any particular race," said Cannon. "We universally go to where the problems exist."

Cannon also says the ACLU report, which focuses of data for 2010 on marijuana arrests across the nation, inaccurately describes the amount of money spent of pot arrests.

The report claims more than $49 million was spent on marijuana arrests in 2010. The Sheriff doesn't agree.

Scott is fired up over a study released by the ACLU that focuses on 2010 data of marijuana arrests across the nation.

The study breaks down its findings by state and then again by county. It reveals blacks were arrested 3.2 times more than whites for pot charges in Charleston County during that time.

"It's a big problem," said Scott. "It's not just 'OK, we found this person smoking weed,' there are issues bigger than that."

Scott says after reading over the report she came to the conclusion it's information shows the epitome of racial profiling in South Carolina and beyond.

"The numbers that this study covered, it got worse before it got better so surely I expect those numbers to get higher," she said. "You could not be in North Charleston and go two blocks without seven blue lights going at the same time."

Scott and her group of supporters used Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon as an example multiple times during their press conference.

The NAACP president says Cannon reportedly called the ACLU report 'bias research.'

She says his response is disturbing.

"It's unfortunate our sheriff would dismiss scholarly research as bias without first providing evidence to the contrary," said Scott.

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