There are some upsetting new developments coming out of Ferguson
It’s been months since unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri, by a police officer. Just today, the city’s Justice Department announced (after a six-month inquiry) that officer Darren Wilson would not be charged in the fatal shooting. The findings essentially state that Wilson was acting in self defense. That’s not all the city announced today, and the rest of their findings are equally upsetting.
After the shooting, the city did an immersive inquiry into policing around Ferguson. According to their new reports, the Ferguson police department routinely violated the constitutional rights of black citizens, and displayed clear and disturbing racial bias. Their broad review of the department included going over 35,000 pages of police records, which found that African-Americans accounted for 93 percent of all arrests between 2012 and 2014 even though they’re just 67 percent of Ferguson’s population.
That’s not the only depressing statistic. African-Americans also accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops and 90 percent of citations issued. From 2011 to 2013, African-Americans accounted for 95 percent of jaywalking charges, as well as 94 percent of “failure to comply” charges.
Plus, the emails exchanged between police officers and court officials were downright racist. (One particularly skin-crawling example, from 2008, stated that President Obama wouldn’t be in the White House long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”)
But maybe what’s most disturbing of all about the Ferguson police department is that it’s probably not an exception. “I would speculate that the same pattern and practices of Ferguson exist in every other department in St. Louis County,” St. Louis NAACP president Adolphus Pruitt told the Post.
And surely that’s true: But it probably exists not just in St. Louis, but also in Cleveland, New York, and countless other places across the country. While the outcome in the Michael Brown inquiry is disappointing, if these other revelations are the first step in correcting racial bias in Ferguson, let’s hope they’re also the beginning of a long, widespread national movement. The time for it has come.
(Image via Reuters)