Justice Deptartment faults Ferguson police of racial bias

The New York Times reported on Sunday that an upcoming Justice Department report finds that the Ferguson Police practiced racial bias in their traffic stops. The Ferguson police “created years of racial animosity leading up to an officer’s shooting of a black teenager last summer,” said the NY Times article.

The report criticizes the city for disproportionately ticketing and arresting African-Americans and relying on the fines to balance the city’s budget,” the article continues.

The report is expected to be made public early this week.

The Justice Department investigation comes after Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old on August 9 of this past summer. Brown was shot six times, including twice in the head.

The killing of Brown set off a series of riots that rocked Ferguson Mo. and resulted in a curfew being placed over the city and the National Guard being called in by the Governor.

This past November, a grand jury chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Brown after hearing more than 70 hours of testimony.

“The reason I have a clean conscience that is that I did my job right,” said Wilson in an interview.

The NY Times article says that the Justice Dept. report describes “the mounting sense of frustration and anger in a predominantly black city where the police department and local government are mostly white.”

In their investigation, the Justice Dept. focused on cases of excessive force and treatment of prisoners in addition to police conduct during traffic stops.

The NY Times reports that in 2013, blacks, who make up 63% of the population, accounted for 86% of traffic stops and that they were twice as likely to be searched. Whites who were searched however, were more likely to be found holding contraband.

“The City of Ferguson is going to make its decisions based on what its residents and the people in this region feel is necessary to move us forward,” said James Knowles III, the Mayor of Ferguson.

If the City of Ferguson does not come to a settlement with the Justice Dept. in relation to the charges in the upcoming report, it can be sued by the government on civil rights charges.

 

[The New York Times] [AP Photo/Jeff Roberson]