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Ferguson's racism problem, in one paragraph

Police in Ferguson
Police in Ferguson
(Getty Images)

The Department of Justice's chilling report on systemic racial bias in Ferguson, Missouri, meticulously describes the layers of injustice visited upon the black residents of the St. Louis suburb, which became infamous last summer when then-police officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Since then, protesters, community activists, and journalists have been detailing the racial bias in Ferguson's justice system. And now, the DOJ report has put all of these unconstitutional practices in one 102-page document, from the disproportionate traffic stops to the use of exorbitant fines — paid by poor black residents — to bolster the city's budget. The following paragraph from the report sums up in a few words how the police and court system in the city so thoroughly stacked the odds against black residents, and the extreme inequality residents were experiencing when they flooded the streets to protest Brown's death last August:

The disparate impact of Ferguson’s enforcement actions is compounding: at each point in the enforcement process there is a higher likelihood that an African American will be subjected to harsher treatment; accordingly, as the adverse consequences imposed by Ferguson grow more and more severe, those consequences are imposed more and more disproportionately against African Americans. Thus, while 85 % of FPD’s vehicle stops are of African Americans, 90% of FPD’s citations are issued to African Americans, and 92% of all warrants are issued in cases against African Americans. Strikingly, available data shows that of those subjected to one of the most severe actions this system routinely imposes—actual arrest for an outstanding municipal warrant—96% are African American.

Read the full report here.

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