Department of Justice Investigation's Ferguson Findings Disturbing

By Brazile, Donna | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), March 8, 2015 | Go to article overview

Department of Justice Investigation's Ferguson Findings Disturbing


Brazile, Donna, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice released two reports: one that exonerated Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the killing an 18-year-old unarmed black youth, Michael Brown, and a separate 105-page report on its investigation into Ferguson`s police department following Brown`s tragic death. The second report was disturbing.

Here`s why:

Among its findings: In Ferguson, a city of 21,000 residents, 16,000 had outstanding arrest warrants for minor violations like jaywalking.

In order to pay for the local court system (and not motivated by public safety), the city of Ferguson engaged in "illegal and harmful practices" of charging residents high court fees and fees on nonviolent offenses (like jaywalking). Some people have come to refer to this practice as "taxation by citation."

According to outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, "this (Civil Rights Division) investigation found a community that was deeply polarized; a community where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents."

Ferguson`s black citizens accounted for 95 percent of all jaywalking fines and warrants. The DOJ investigation discovered Ferguson`s African-American residents were targets for minor offenses - basically to pad the city budget.

PBS News reported, "According to the (Ferguson) police department`s internal records concerning force, 88 percent of those cases involved force against blacks. More so, all 14 canine bite incidents involved blacks."

In an age when voters are supposed to have control over their public officials, Ferguson`s black residents - 67 percent of its population - have none. The DOJ uncovered city emails (originated and circulated by Ferguson police officers and even court employees) that demeaned African-Americans. When a city official can send an email about President Barack Obama that says he`ll be gone soon because, "What black man holds a steady job for four years," it shows we haven`t progressed beyond the march in Selma and the civil rights movement as much as we think. …

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