Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Forty-four members of the so-called “Cartersville 70″ have reached a $900,000 settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit, according to their attorneys against government officials
On New Year’s Eve in 2017, 70 people, were arrested during a Bartow County house party for allegedly possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. The Georgia NAACP was alerted and dispatched Attorney Gerald Griggs to investigate. After twelve days, the charges were dropped by the Bartow County District Attorney.
“It’s simply not possible for 70 people to possess the same alleged small amount of marijuana,” Attorney Gerald Griggs, speaking on behalf of the Georgia NAACP, said following the charges being dropped.
According to police reports, the incident began early on the morning of December 31, 2017, when Cartersville police officer was “responding to a report of gunfire in the area.” Driving by the house party residence, Police claimed he smelled marijuana—despite having his windows rolled up.
The officers asked the men what was occurring inside; they explained it was a party. The officers then entered the home and announced everyone was being detained, according to police testimony. The majority of the guests were in their late teens or early 20s, according to booking reports.
Police didn’t have permission to enter the home, and a search warrant wasn’t signed until shortly after 4 a.m.—about two hours after police first arrived on the scene. Of the 70 people arrested that night, more than 50 were black.
The district attorney’s office ended up dropping charges against almost the entire group after working with Attorney Gerald Griggs of the Georgia NAACP. The lone outstanding charge of possession against a partygoer was dropped by a judge who found the search at the house-party to be unconstitutional.
Subsequently, the Southern Center for Human Rights and The Merchant Law Firm PC announced on March 11, 2022 that they have reached a settlement in Williams v. City of Cartersville, a civil rights lawsuit where 64 young people were arrested for being present at a party on December 30, 2017, where less than an ounce of marijuana was found.