Bartow drops drug charges for 64, but NAACP says civil rights violated

Less than two weeks after 65 people were charged with drug possession during a party, the Bartow County District Attorney dismissed 64 of the cases Friday. But the NAACP says the arrests violated civil rights, so the fight isn’t over.

“The District Attorney’s office has reviewed the files pertaining to the arrest of 65 individuals for possession of marijuana on Dec. 31, 2017,” District Attorney Rosemary Greene said in a press release. “The review concludes the evidence is insufficient to convict 64 of the 65 charged.”

RELATED: NAACP says majority of Bartow charges should be dismissed

The arrests were made in the early-morning hours when Cartersville officers responded to a report of shots being fired on Cain Drive, according to police. Officers reported marijuana and a semi-automatic handgun and notified the county’s drug task force. The home was then searched and the party-goers, which also included five juveniles, were all arrested, police said.

But an attorney for the NAACP said it wasn’t possible for that many party-goers to possess the same marijuana. Attorney Gerald Griggs also said officers searched the home illegally, which police disputed. Griggs and Greene met several times, along with other NAACP leaders, to discuss the charges.

“She was very thoughtful, very open and transparent, and she did what any officer of the law is supposed to do,” Griggs said. “I salute her for listening to the system.”

Greene declined to discuss the case Friday afternoon because one investigation remains open, she said. Though Griggs praised the DA for her swift review of the cases, he said the arrests violated party-goers’ Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures of property.

“As the NAACP, we are happy that the judicial system, after it was prodded, started to work effectively towards the ends of justice,” Griggs said.

Griggs said he will continue to monitor the case to determine whether legal action should be taken for the alleged civil rights violations.

“It’s definitely not over by a long shot,” he said.

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