It has been common knowledge for a while, but it’s good to know that it’s now publicly being called out: the Department of Justice has just finished a very critical report accusing Ferguson police of making discriminatory traffic stops, ticketing and arresting a disproportional number of African Americans, and using those fines to balance the city’s budget. Those acts created years of racial animosity, helping to create the boiling pot that erupted after the Mike Brown shooting:
Blacks accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops in 2013 but make up 63 percent of the population, according to the most recent data published by the Missouri attorney general. And once they were stopped, black drivers were twice as likely to be searched, even though searches of white drivers were more likely to turn up contraband. For people in Ferguson who cannot afford to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops can become yearslong ordeals, with repeated imprisonments because of mounting fines. Such fines are the city’s second-largest source of revenue after sales tax. Federal investigators say that has provided a financial incentive to continue law enforcement policies that unfairly target African-Americans.
Still think we’re post-racial, everybody?
Team Blackness also discussed further mishandling of the Tamir Rice killing; another police shooting of a homeless man, this time by LAPD; and one woman’s rather intense response to seeing 50 Shades of Gray.
Subscribe on iTunes | Subscribe On Stitcher | Direct Download | RSS
Based on what I have read – I think it was a Washington Post front page article – this seems to be SOP with a lot of the very small, local agencies in Missouri as a way to fund their tiny town government. Makes you wonder if the problems in Missouri which exist in other jurisdictions, are exacerbated because of the way the state incorporates towns.
Police and weather: everyone talks about it and nobody does anything about it, including the DOJ. How many killed after Ferguson, after yesterday??
The Moar You Know
Never did. American race relations are worse now than at any point in my life.
somehow I get the feeling that many whites believe that we live in a post-racial society, I suspect that you ask anyone else of a different skin pigmentation that the answer is “not so much”. Being a middle class white guy, I’ve tried to raise my kids to be aware that in our current society, they were already placed on 2nd base culturally and that the best thing that they could do is to take each personal interaction and evaluate their opinions on people on their individual merits. If someone is an asshole, then they’re an assshole, regardless of race, creed and gender. It helps to be an example that shows that you can have friends across racial lines and social strata…
“Federal investigators say that has provided a financial incentive to continue law enforcement policies that unfairly target African-Americans.”
I think they would have done it even without the financial incentive. I think the incentive was just extra sprinkles on the cupcake.
Many do. An alarmingly large number go even further and ardently believe that whites are now being actively oppressed by people of color.
Mike in NC
DoJ report will be ignored by MSM as they dwell on mean people saying things that hurt Netanyahu’s feelings.
@Mike in NC: yeah, I remember those times where the Dems invited the Palestinians to come and speak to Congress during Bush Presidency….
Couldn't Stand the Weather
As a black man, none of this information should surprise me.
I’m angry just the same.
This is the worst part… these stops and the resulting fines are second-largest source of revenue after sales tax. It’s not just commonplace, it’s pervasive.
Fucking Missouri is worse than some parts of the Confederacy. Somewhere, George Wallace is smiling.
There are supposed to be Constitutional safeguards against such forms of legalised extortion, aren’t there? (the foreigner asked innocently).
Hey, its tough being a white guy when the game is no longer rigged in your favor, at least not as much as it used to be back in the “good old days” that the “real Americans” long to return to.
If the makeup of the Police Department represented the community , that would be a good first step. Maybe road improvement funds should be allocated to district by traffic fine
@ET: It’s worse in some ways, the proliferation of small municipalities was part of white flight from St. Louis. (Wish I could remember where I read that…if I can find it, I will add it).
@Couldn’t Stand the Weather: part of Missouri wanted to join the confederacy and was a front line during the war of southern treason. So, from a certain vantage point, this really shouldn’t be a surprise
@barbequebob: I suspect the Tea Party generation who come from extreme privilege have woken up to the squeeze the rest of us have felt all our lives and just can’t quite deal with it.
I never understand why the most virulent racists are the ones saying we’re “post-racial.”
The Moar You Know
@Amir Khalid: The only one I can think of is that the government cannot require me to house and quarter soldiers in my home.
Otherwise, the Constitution is silent on such matters.
And there was Bleeding Kansas before that, brought to you in part by the Border Ruffians from Missouri.
There are supposed to be, but those safeguards are weaker than we like to think. The main one is the 5th Amendment protection that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The problem is that these fines are being handed out by a court, so they theoretically are following due process, and proving that there are due process problems is hard.
It’s the city council that needs to represent the community first; they’re the ones who are ordering the police department to operate as a revenue service rather than a public safety service. You need to reform the people giving the orders first, and reform of the people following them will happen naturally.
Don’t have time to skim it now, but I believe it’s this article from Radley Balko in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/09/03/how-st-louis-county-missouri-profits-from-poverty/
another Holocene human
@Gus: Same as Holocaust deniers: the Holocaust didn’t happen and Hitler had the right idea.
It’s not cognitive dissonance but a different bias, I think: motivated reasoning. They NEED their myths so they lie to themselves about everything.
More information from the report came out today.
Yeah, no racial problems there.
I heard the following report on NPR a few weeks ago and it’s even worse than you thought. In most jurisdictions, you can serve jail time if you can’t pay the fine. In Ferguson, they jail you for non-payment and add fees to the existing fine, which you’re still required to pay:
I don’t like to use the “S” word lightly, but how is this anything but a form of debt slavery?
J R in WV
It is debt peonage, except that they don’t lease the prisoners out to wealthy farmers.
That was SOP down in the deep south. They replaced their previous slavery with a legal requirement that black folks have a good paying job on a farm – without that they were indigent vagrants, and were usually sentenced to hard labor on a big farm, without payment of any wages…
This was implemented the day after federal troops were withdrawn from duty on them reconstruction. Well, I exaggerate, but it didn’t take them long to round them lazy nigras up and put them back to work.
This. I am mixed race, half-German and half-Chinese (there’s a combo!) I rarely was made to feel strange or unusual about my race growing up in the late 70’s/early 80’s. It has gotten steadily worse.
And, as the GOP continues to rail against illegal immigrants, I have started to look Mexican to “real Americans.” That’s not fun.
I Googled the Eric Holder/Malcolm X thing cause I wanted to read a bit more. Surprise, surprise, I see wingnut headlines that “Holder Plays The Race Card In Exit Interview!”
It pretty much always comes down to elections having consequences, doesn’t it?
Much like the Minneapolis police and their union being scared of their Chief and the elected leadership. The MPD doesn’t want to be called out for their abuses. I’d like to see a public poll on how many Minneapolis residents are as scared of the MPD as the MPD is scared of those who are calling them are their shit.
Paul in KY
@Gus: Just another example of The Big Lie in operation.