Thursday, March 12, 2015

United States Department Of Justice Unleashes A Scathing Report On Ferguson, Missouri's Police Department & Justice System

After the shooting death of unarmed 18 year old African American Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri there was an understandable outcry to find out what exactly transpired on that August 9th afternoon in 2014. After the Grand jury appointed to find out what happened in Ferguson, on that fated day refused to return an indictment of the officer that murdered Michael Brown the outcry became deafening.

Under mounting pressure by the community to find answers the United States Department Of Justice launched a probe into the town in light of the accusations of racism and the inability of the Ferguson grand jury to indict officer, Darren Wilson.

What the DOJ uncovered was nothing less than shocking.

In the report, the Justice Department found what it described as a "pattern and practice" of discrimination against African Americans by the Ferguson police department and their municipal courts. The report uncovered systemic racism from the top of the government food chain down. It found that Ferguson's justice system functioned as a money-making enterprise rather than one meant to ensure public safety. Investigators also noted that Ferguson counted on revenues from fines and fees to generate nearly a quarter of its total $13.3 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year. Many residents ended up in jail after missing court dates or failing to pay fines for minor violations... and the majority of those people were black.

To fully understand the scope of the injustices one has to know the racial breakdown of the town of Ferguson. Of the 21,00 people that live in the there 33% are white and 67% are African American. At the time of the Michael Brown shooting the entire Ferguson police force only employed 4 African American officers (7.4 percent).

With this knowledge at hand let's look at some of the injustices the DOJ uncovered:

  • From 2012 to 2014, 85% of people subject to vehicle stops by Ferguson police were African-American.

  • From 2012 to 2014, 90% of those who received citations were black

  • From 2012 to 2014, 93% of people arrested were black.

  • From 2012-2014 black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband.

  • In 88% of the cases in which Ferguson police officers reported using force, it was against African-Americans

  • Of the 14 times police dogs were used in 2014, 100 percent of the times they were used on African Americans

  • Black drivers in Ferguson were more likely to face excessive force from police, often during unwarranted stops.

  • Blacks are 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed in municipal court. 

  • Arrest warrants were more likely to be issued for blacks than whites

  • It was found that the court uses petty crime charges to pad the city’s budget. As of December 2014, 16,000 out of Ferguson’s 21,000 residents have outstanding warrants for minor violations, including traffic tickets.

  • Over a six-month period in 2014, 95 percent of inmates who spent more than two days in the Ferguson jail were black.

  • Petty offenses disproportionately target black citizens. 95 percent of all “Manner of Walking in Roadway” charges were against blacks.

The investigation also highlighted several racist emails sent by police and court employees noting that the racist emails highlighted the way local police have dehumanized black citizens and suspects during interactions with the community.

The racist emails include...

  • October 2011 that showed a photo of bare-chested dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption "Michelle Obama's High School Reunion."

  • A June 2011 email described a man trying to put his dogs on welfare because the canines were "mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no ... clue who their Daddies are."

  • One email mocked then-recently elected President Obama, stating he wouldn’t hold the office for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

  • A second depicted President Obama as a chimpanzee.

  • Another email ridiculed African-American speech patterns.

  • Another email said: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’

As of today the firings and resignations in Ferguson stand only at five and are as follows...

  • The Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has been fired.

  • Mary Ann Twitty, the chief administrator in Ferguson’s much-criticized municipal court system, was fired

  • Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd, resigned.

  • Ferguson municipal judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer, who oversaw the court system, declared his resignation

  • City Manager John Shaw, was let go after the city council voted 7-0 to approve a "mutual separation agreement."

President Obama said of the investigation

"I don't think that is typical of what happens across the country, but it's not an isolated incident... I think there are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement has broken down, and individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure they are protecting, serving all people, and not just some."

Ferguson is everytown.

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