U.S. Justice Department Rips The Ferguson Police Plantation


Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson

[Speaking Truth To Power]

A Corrupt Cesspool of Racism

This week, the Justice Department in a report found that the Ferguson Police Department engaged in a “pattern of unconstitutional policing” finding “substantial evidence of racial bias among police and court staff in Ferguson,” where, “harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices are borne disproportionately by African Americans, and there is evidence that this is due in part to intentional discrimination on the basis of race.”

We must ask: isn’t it time for Washington to act on the brutal bigotry of America’s police departments?

The silence until now amounts to sanctioning such behavior as demonstrated by the Ferguson police towards African-Americans.

The Justice Department’s findings came about as a result of months of investigations into the killing of Michael Brown, who was shot to death execution-style in broad daylight by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

That killing—along with the strangulation death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York—sparked months of mass protests across the country against police brutality.

During a press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder announced charges would not be filed against Officer Wilson—but spoke of a “searing report” showing massive racism embedded in the culture of the Ferguson Police Department which has fueled community resentment and mistrust.

“The facts do not support the filing of criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson in this case.

Michael Brown’s death, though a tragedy, did not involve “prosecutable conduct on the part of Officer Wilson,” said Mr. Holder. “This conclusion represents the sound, considered, and independent judgment of the expert career prosecutors within the Department of Justice,” he said, and, “I concur with the investigative team’s judgment and the determination about our inability to meet the required federal standard.”

Mr. Holder said the reason many African-Americans believe Officer Wilson was guilty of criminal conduct lay in the racist polarization between Ferguson Police and its Black residents—a polarization caused by the racial bias of Ferguson Police.

“As detailed in our searing report,” Holder said “….this investigation found a community that was deeply polarized; a community where deep distrust and hostility often characterized interactions between police and area residents.”

Holder referred to: “A community where local authorities consistently approached law enforcement not as a means for protecting public safety, but as a way to generate revenue. A community where both policing and municipal court practices were found to disproportionately harm African American residents. A community where this harm frequently appears to stem, at least in part, from racial bias – both implicit and explicit. And a community where all of these conditions, unlawful practices, and constitutional violations have not only severely undermined the public trust, eroded police legitimacy, and made local residents less safe – but created an intensely charged atmosphere where people feel under assault and under siege by those charged to serve and protect them.”

Holder cited the Justice Department’s report which documents that 85 percent of those stopped by Ferguson Police were Black; 90 percent of those given tickets and citations were Black; and 93 percent of those arrested were Black. Apparently, these figures were connected to an insidious attempt to balance the city’s budget on the backs of Ferguson’s Black residents.

Considering last year while White unemployment in Ferguson was 8% and Black unemployment was 17% the egregiousness of such conduct is multiplied.

The report states Ferguson officials pressured Police Chief Tom Jackson to boost the city’s revenue stream by increasing tickets and citations against the town’s Black population.

The report noted a March 2010 email, where, “the Finance Director wrote to Chief Jackson that ‘unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections next year. What are your thoughts? Given that we are looking at a substantial sales tax shortfall, it’s not an insignificant issue.’ Chief Jackson responded that the City would see an increase in fines once more officers were hired.”

According to the report, “many officers appear to see some residents, especially those who live in Ferguson’s predominantly African-American neighborhoods, less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.”

The Justice Department’s report also uncovered racist emails Ferguson Police—and court officials—were sending to one another.

“A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because ‘what Black man holds a steady job for four years’ … An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. A May 2011 email stated: “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 …’ An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, ‘Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”

After this report, of the rampant racism occurring inside the Ferguson Police Department, will Washington finally take strong, “zero tolerance” action to address racism within police departments nationwide?

The Ferguson Police Department deserves to federalized, seized, and reformed, if that’s an option.

This is the atmosphere of rampant racism that must have formed the prism with which Darren Wilson viewed Black males, such as Michael Brown.

Some are now reacting with astonishment that the Ferguson Police—and those in its municipal government—are economically exploiting African-Americans. But this is no doubt going on in many places throughout the country. Economic warfare against Black people is happening, everyday, across America—including inside police stations.

Here in New York, we know the NYPD has an intensely insensitive quota policy of targeting Black people for tickets and summonses. Because they think Black people are buffoons, they tell us the NYPD has “performance goals,” not “quotas.” That these “performance goals” are directed at Black New Yorkers is clear.

Unfortunately, many of us have failed to understand that economic exploitation was always the essential element in the criminalization of African-Americans. It was the case after Slavery, when the infamous “Black Codes” and “vagrancy laws” were being passed to arrest recently, so-called, emancipated slaves who were regularly arrested on phony charges, and, through measures like the “Convict Leasing” system often found themselves enslaved again—sometimes, on the very same plantations where they had toiled in bondage before.

Economic exploitation has always been at the center of the racism African-Americans face. From Slavery, to the present state of Black criminalization and mass incarceration, that has been the order of the day as well-documented in Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.”

This is why politicians who give us speeches about maintaining “law and order” in Black communities never involve themselves in concrete conversations about addressing the high levels of unemployment among African-Americans—and, in particular, among our young men.

In fact, given how long we have been abandoned by the White political structure, we should realize they will never make any honest attempt to remedy the economic abandonment of Black America.

This is why African-Americans must fight for full control of their communities from outsiders who maintain racist control, as demonstrated in Ferguson and no doubt in other jurisdictions around the nation. Since, by and large, we live in segregated communities African Americans must then battle for the economic, political and social self-determination of their crippled communities.

This is probably the only way African Americans can stop the rampant racism in these police departments from continuing to take the lives of our people. Real community policing is needed—where our people control every facet of the police—from policy procedures to those who are allowed to police our people. White people would never allow Black people to craft police policy, and, flood their White picket-fenced neighborhoods with Black police.

Why should Black America allow those who would never live among us to police us?

Part of the major problem now is that White policemen from the segregated Suburbs are permitted to police Black communities. They are not familiar with the neighborhood and have no affinitty or empathy with the community.

In fact, this is a major part of the racist problem African Americans face— many of the White officers come with bigoted baggage from their segregated enclaves.

In Ferguson the racist emails exposed in the Justice Department’s investigation attest to this.

Why are some of these folks pretending these email messages are so shocking? Many will claim this is just a few “bad apples”; some degenerate cops.

However, the sentiments expressed in these email messages are more widespread than White America wants to admit. The sentiment of the email, which referenced the abortion of Blacks, was echoed before by William Bennett—the Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan—when he said aborting Black babies would drive down the crime rate.

This despicable man is, somehow, revered by many in politics and for many years was a frequent commentator on CNN. What should that tell us?

The findings of the Justice Department reinforces what Black America already knows. That racism is a pervasive problem in America’s police departments—and is sanctioned, whether explicitly, or implicitly by America’s political structures.


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