Black residents in the District are disproportionately arrested for minor violations, despite making up less than half of the population, according to a study by two watchdog groups.
Black people make up 47% of D.C.’s population but accounted for 86% of all arrests in the District — ten times the arrest rate of white residents, according to a study by D.C.’s ACLU office and the advocacy group, Open the Government.
D.C. police arrest data from 2013 to 2017 shows that more than 16,000 people were arrested for low-level crimes such as driving without a permit, possessions of an open container of alcohol, public marijuana consumption, gambling and noise complaints. The data covers the entire District — not just high crime areas.
While only 34% of the District’s black commuters travel by vehicle, 78% of all people arrested for driving without a permit were black. according to the data. The disparities in arrests and traffic stops are likely a result of discriminatory decisions being made by officers, the study suggests.