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MOMS uses billboard to ask Baltimore Mayor Pugh to end marijuana arrests, prioritize homicide investigations

Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters United is using a mobile billboard to ask Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh to end arrests for marijuana possession and to prioritize homicide investigations.

MOMS plans to unveil the billboard, which is posted on the side of a truck, at a news conference Thursday at 11 a.m. at War Memorial Plaza. The billboard’s message is simple: “Mayor Pugh, stop pot arrests. Solve murders instead.”

The truck will circle War Memorial Plaza, City Hall and police headquarters Thursday until 5 p.m.

Most killings in Baltimore remain unsolved, and MOMS says resources need to be spent solving them.

The local group, which was founded by Daphne Alston after the 2008 killing of her son, Tarik Sharif Alston, said in a news release that it is joining “a growing community outcry” about Pugh’s inaction after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that her office would cease prosecuting people for possessing marijuana regardless of the quantity or the person’s criminal history.

Pugh has said she supports what “Mosby is attempting to address” — but that drug dealing fuels criminality and violence.

Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said his officers wouldn’t change their practices — no matter Mosby’s policy. For years, the department has shifted its focus from drug users to violent criminals, though shootings have gone on unabated. The few marijuana arrests are incidental to police work intended to suppress street violence, Tuggle said.

“We’re not expending resources going after pot; we’re expending our resources going after violence,” he said.

Mosby has promised to continue prosecuting everyone suspected of selling marijuana. Her office will look for evidence of drug dealing: baggies, ledgers and scales.

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