Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ferguson Police Accused of Racial Bias in Traffic Stops

   The Justice Department recently completed a report accusing the Ferguson of making discriminatory traffic stops of African Americans. The report also criticizes the city for allowing this to happen and even allowing the fines to balance the city's budget. For the people of Ferguson, African Americans make up about 63% of the population but the police department and local government are predominantly white. In addition, for those that cannot afford to pay their tickets due to traffic stops, there is a higher chance for imprisonment of these individuals because of mounting fines. In this city and other surrounding areas, the police have stopped black people at a significantly higher rate than whites. The Justice Department noted, "the disparity is stark and unremitting."

Despite the fact that the shooting of Michael Brown occurred about half a year ago, the Ferguson police don't seem to respond to the influx of protests. What other actions can be taken in order to limit the targeting of these minority groups?
Eric Holder became the nation's first black attorney general in 2009 and as Obama's emissary to Ferguson, he helped calm tensions amid protests after the shooting. This Ferguson case will be the last in a long line of civil rights cases into police departments that Mr. Holder has directed since he's leaving office in just a few weeks. How do you think his leave might affect the people of Ferguson or other civil rights cases related to racism for that matter?

What are your thoughts on what actions the Justice Department might take?


Murray Sandmeyer said...

Some other actions that can be taken include better training of police officers to be more racially conscious and also body cameras. Considering that Ferguson police still disproportionately target blacks indicates that the turmoil we saw last year is not going to end any time soon. The police needs to be aware of the injustices occurring in their city and be prepared to prevent another Brown-Wilson type of case, which is bound to happen at this rate.

Kelsey O'Donnell said...

About 1/3 of the men incarcerated in America right now are African-American and if that doesn't speak to racial biases I don't know what does. The Justice Department needs to take action against this starting at a local level since this is where trouble is occurring. It is nearly impossible to take away the biases people have and so in order to best deal with this issue training that involves treating all instances the same, no matter the person, would help remove any personal bias that an officer has. I think that this is a possible solution but what really needs to be tackled is the fact that racism is still prevalent in America, especially still in the south.

Jeremiah Rondeau said...

There is no way for the federal government to stop subconscious racism (or classism), however accountability measures can be put in place to disincentive these stops. Civil forfeiture reform (local or national-- Rand Paul's FAIR Act) can help end a specific type of stop, and establishing a working complaint system (one that doesn't favor officers beyond all reason) is also essential.

67 percent of Ferguson's population is black (this isn't a minority being oppressed), and that population is likely very ticked off right now. Ferguson doesn't need the federal government-- it needs leaders to step up and utilize their (dormant) political power to vote out the hacks.