The New Jim Crow?: Ferguson’s Patterned Racism Revealed

March 4, 2015  |  

Some are referring to Ferguson’s police practices as the new Jim Crow. The pattern of systematic racism embedded into their law enforcement, the blatant burden some community members face due to the color of their skin. Yes, this is 2015. And many conclusions have come to light this week.  The Department of Justice’s investigation findings reveal disheartening information on Ferguson’s practices and just hours ago the Justice Department published a report on the shooting on Michael Brown. The conclusion? Darren Wilson will not face federal civil rights charges.

After meeting with the Brown family Wednesday morning, the Justice Department made the announcement on Wilson. During this time, the DOJ also released its findings in its larger investigation.

The Huffington Post has reported that the investigation done by the Department of Justice reveals that “city officials engage in practices that discriminate against black residents and routinely violate the Constitution and federal law.” The sad thing is, there is not much surprise in the findings. The world could see as livestreams aired what the news would not at 2am in the morning in the streets of Ferguson that the practices of this city have long been an issue.

Just a few weeks back, we reported on the Department of Justice’s plan to sue the Ferguson Police Department due to the findings of racial discrimination if reform laid out by the DOJ was not adhered to and now more details have come to light. Ferguson mainly relies on its civil court system to produce revenue for the city and it seems as though the bill is on the backs of its black citizens.

The Huffington Post reveals these new investigation details:

African-Americans were overwhelmingly those charged with certain petty offenses that particularly depend on officers’ judgment, according to the forthcoming report. Between 2011 and 2013, African-Americans made up 95 percent of those charged in Ferguson with improper “manner of walking in roadway,” 94 percent of those charged with “failure to comply,” and 92 percent of those charged with disturbance of the peace. Black residents account for just 67 percent of the city’s population.

The federal investigation was based on reviews of thousands of pages of records, on-site visits and interviews with members of the community. It found that police in Ferguson routinely made arrests without probable cause and that blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched during vehicle stops but less likely to be found in possession of contraband. It found that 88 percent of documented use-of-force incidents were against African-Americans, including all 14 documented police dog bites from 2012 to 2014.

The investigation also found evidence of racial bias among police officers and municipal court officials. One message circulated on an official Ferguson email system in November 2008 said that President Barack Obama wouldn’t be president long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

As Attorney General Eric Holder  prepares to leave office he is looking to keep his promise of bringing justice to Ferguson even if that does not mean specifically taking down Wilson. That justice could come in a variety of forms. Charles F. Coleman, Jr., a civil rights attorney and former Brooklyn prosecutor, said the DOJ may continue with its alleged suit due to the violations or move into a settlement that includes a total transformation in police training, department oversight and a push for more African American officers.

Michelle Alexander, author of the bestseller The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, spoke with Democracy Now! on the history of the incarceration crisis dating back to the Jim Crow south and slavery.

“There is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across America. … What we see now is that we do have the power to make things change. The question is are we going to transition from protest politics to long-term, strategic movement building?” said Alexander.

MommyNoire spent time with many organizations and activists last month speaking to mothers troubled with the current state of police brutality in America. Listen to what they had to say and join in on the movement.



Feature Image: Instagram Jimvondruska

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