The NAACP is investigating the response of the Bartow County Law Enforcement in the arrests of 70 people for less than an ounce of marijuana.
At least 63 people at a house party in Cartersville, Georgia were arrested over the weekend on suspicion of possession after police were unable to identify the owner of the drug stash found inside the house.
Cartersville police said they arrived at the “lingerie-theme” 21st birthday bash party at about 2:20 a.m. after receiving a 911 call about possible gunshots. Police reportedly called in the county drug task force to assist in the investigation. They also claim to have found two firearms at the scene, including one that had been reported stolen in Detroit, as well as “several smoking devices” and “suspected cocaine.”
Four men were also booked on suspicion of felonies not related to drug possession.
Attendees told WXIA that the reported gunshots had been fireworks.
Deja Heard, the woman who was celebrating her birthday, told WSB-TV that “all of us are innocent — it’s just not right.”
The Georgia NAACP said it was launching an investigation into the arrests. The organization has also backed a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the arrested partygoers, described as the “Cartersville 70.”
“Some of these young people need money to make bail and all of them need assistance with their legal fees. A good majority of these individuals are college students and members of the U.S. military who were visiting home over the holiday break, and decided to attend a party to catch up with old friends while in town. Others were working citizens who lost their jobs the second they walked into work this morning,” the campaign page reads. “They need your help to bring justice and light to the unjust treatment these individuals experienced leading to and during their incarceration.”
Some of the arrested partygoers were reportedly mistreated by police, telling WSB that they were “tied up with zip ties” and “threatened with tasers.” Several men said they’d been “locked in cages.”
“All the subjects at the residence were placed under arrest for the possession of the suspected marijuana which was within everyone’s reach or control,” said the Bartow Cartersville Drug Task Force in a news release.
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(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)