Ferguson report finds deck stacked against blacks: Editorial cartoon
By Jeff Darcy, Northeast Ohio Media Group
on March 08, 2015 at 5:25 AM
CLEVELAND, Ohio– The Ferguson Police department and court system need to spring forward to 2015 from 1965 and 1865.
The U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Ferguson Police Department found the city’s policing and court system practices follow a pattern of racial discrimination that is systemic. The investigation also uncovered a series of racist emails shared among police and court supervisors.
Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “Our investigation showed that Ferguson police officers routinely violate the Fourth Amendment in stopping people without reasonable suspicion, arresting them without probable cause, and using unreasonable force against them.”
The DOJ conducted hundreds of interviews and reviewed 35,000 pages of records. Those records showed 67% of blacks in Ferguson account for 85% of traffics stops, 90% of citations issued and 93% of the arrests made from 2012 to 2014.
Of all black drivers stopped, 8,987 received citations. Of all white drivers stopped, only 1,501 received citations. 891 blacks were arrested compared to 63 whites.
In every police dog bite incident reported, the person was black, including the case of a 14-year-old unarmed boy, whose case was featured in the report.
Blacks were disproportianately arrested and cited for petty offenses. Blacks accounted for 95% of all jaywalking charges, 94% of failure to comply charges and 92% of peace disturbance charges. The jaywalking figure is especially interesting knowing Michael Brown’s fatal encounter with police officer Darren Wilson, began with Wilson ordering Brown and his companion to stop jaywalking and to get on the sidewalk.
The report further found that “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the city’s focus on revenue rather than public safety needs…contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing”
The M.O. of the Ferguson police and court system is to profile the city’s black residents, either cite or arrest them on trumped up charges and add on as many additional charges as they can. Then when the defendant can’t pay the entire fine or fail to appear in court, they issue arrest warrants and add additional fines. In a case featured in the report, a woman parked her car illegally just once and it ended up costing her $1,000 and 6 days in jail.
Blacks used to be objects of commerce when they were bought and sold a[s] slaves in Missouri. In 2015, Ferguson’s still using the black population as commerce by citing and arresting them without probable cause to generate money for the city. The slave collar, rope and whip have been replaced with racial profiling and court fines and fees.
When the Ferguson Police Department and court system aren’t violating the U.S. Constitution, they’re busy sharing racist emails with each other.
An email sent in November 2008 said that Obama would not be President for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years”. Another email depicted him as a chimp.
In October 2011 an email was forwarded showing a bare chested African woman dancing with the caption “Michelle Obama‘s High School reunion.”
A June 2011 email “joked” about a man applying for welfare for his multi-colored dogs. In March 2010 an email was written mocking blacks using stereotype speech.
Those are just a small sampling of racist emails the investigation found.
Like in Cleveland and other cities, the DOJ will enter into negotiations with Ferguson over a consent decree agreement to enforce the required changes. If the city doesn’t agree the DOJ will file a lawsuit.
Holder said the DOJ is prepared to use all the power that it has to “ensure the situation changes”, including the dismantling the department. It may come to that based on the comments of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III.
The Mayor, who was a virtual no-show while the Michael Brown protests were going on, emerged from his undisclosed location to say there was “no proof” of blatant systemic civil rights violations. “There are a lot of things in that report that are very troubling… but there are also things that are an overreach”, said the Mayor. Speaking of the discriminatory practices the Mayor said, ” what they’ve shown is that it has happened, … how often has it happened? I don’t know. Their assertion is it happens regularly, based on what?” Based on 35,000 pages of city records and over 100 interviews, for starters, Mr. Mayor.
The best you can say about Ferguson’s clueless and pathetic Mayor, is that he actually showed up for a few minutes to respond to the report’s release. Police Chief Thomas Jackson wasn’t present at all, which is inexcusable and appalling given the reports findings.
The scathing report shows the practices of the Ferguson PD are not only as bad as protesters said they were, they’re worse. If the Ferguson Chief and reform continue to be no-shows, the DOJ needs to delete the entire department. They’ve done it before. Darren Wilson was hired from a department disbanded over its discriminatory practices.
Fifty years on from the dramatic events of Selma, Greg Palast shows that black US voters are still being systematically disenfranchised: here.
Hundreds of people participated in protests over the weekend in Madison, Wisconsin after a police officer gunned down an unarmed nineteen-year-old on Friday: here.