MSNBC's Chris Hayes Talks Avoiding Weed Arrest At 2000 RNC

By McCarton Ackerman 01/09/14

Hayes' admission underscores recent reports by the ACLU and even the NYPD that African-Americans are far more likely to be arrested for pot possession than whites.

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MSNBC host Chris Hayes revealed that he should have been arrested for marijuana possession while covering the Republican National Convention in 2000, but said he escaped because he's white. The TV anchor claimed that when he attempted to go through the security check-in for the Philadelphia convention, he forgot that he had a bad of pot in his luggage. But even after police opened his bag and found the drugs, he managed to escape without any consequences.

Hayes said his guess as to why he escaped was that the cops thought he was a senator’s son, which would have caused a “whole bunch of headaches” on a night when they had greater security concerns. "I can tell you as sure as I am sitting here before you that if I was a black kid with cornrows instead of a white kid with glasses, my ass would've been in a squad car faster than you can say George W. Bush," he remarked on his show.

However, recent studies have backed up Hayes’ suggestions about racial treatment when it comes to marijuana possession. A report last year from the American Civil Liberties Union found that even though whites and blacks use marijuana at similar rates, black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.

The NYPD also revealed statistics last November which showed that African-Americans were more routinely searched by police than any other race. Of the nearly 160,000 people stopped, questioned and frisked by police in the first six months of 2013, 55.8 percent were black. Nearly 30 percent of those frisked were Hispanic and nearly 11 percent were white.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.