Ferguson’s predatory police are not the only ones

Good summary of the US DOJ report on the Ferguson police:

The report is the story of gun-toting, badge-wearing louts who probably spent hours imagining themselves as impassive, reluctant heroes, telexes in their ears, steely eyes concealed behind sunglasses, preparing to do whatever necessary to enforce the law.

In reality, they ran their little corner of Missouri like a lawless seigneury, bullying citizens, ignoring the law, abetted by an equally bent municipal court system. Ordinary folks didn’t stand a chance.

The federal report effectively describes Ferguson’s police as thuggish tax collectors, willing to use Tasers, fists and boots to satisfy their political masters’ desire for ever more revenue.

Their real job was writing tickets, not protecting the public. How much they could milk from motorists, or pedestrians, determined their career paths.

A few highlights:

  • Ferguson’s mostly white police department blatantly targeted black citizens. “Failure to comply” with police orders that the DOJ said were often illegal, and “walking unsafely in the street” were among the most popular money-generating citations.
  • Officers were particularly harsh with anyone who dared record their behaviour. They would issue an order to stop recording “for safety reasons;” those who kept rolling were charged with failing to comply. Smartphones were seized, video erased.
  • Drivers were cited for imaginary offences. One man was written up and fined for making a false statement. He’d given his name as “Mike” instead of “Michael.”
  • Ferguson police disproportionately went after the poor, who, if they didn’t pay promptly, did jail time and had their fines increased. One woman spent days in jail and paid hundreds of dollars for two parking tickets; she still owes $541.

Ferguson’s predatory police are not the only ones – World – CBC News.

The truth about race, the police and Ferguson – Macleans.ca

Sobering look at the enduring prevalence of racism, and how engrained attitudes are:

Yet, a look at the research suggests the problem of police officers killing unarmed black men is not all about white police forces. In 2002, University of Chicago psychology professor Joshua Correll published The Police Officer’s Dilemma, a landmark study testing racial bias. Correll and his team devised a video game-type experiment in which test subjects were shown images of black and white males, some armed, some not. The subjects had to decide when and when not to shoot.

The results speak for themselves. “Participants fired at an armed target more quickly if he was African American than if he was white, and decided not to shoot an unarmed white target more quickly than an unarmed African American target.”

Here’s the kicker, though: Correll found little difference in the willingness or not to shoot between black and white test subjects. In 2007, he replicated the study with actual police officers, and came to a similar conclusion: A young black male is as likely to be a target of a black police officer as his Caucasian partner.

….In a sense, Michael Brown was victim to the most deadly demonstration of how black males (and blacks in general) are less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. Even if his life doesn’t end at the hands of a cop, a black youth will face myriad examples of as much throughout his life.

Statistically, as a recent Kirwan Institute study suggests, he is more likely to be singled out as aggressive, mean and/or intellectually deficient for similar behaviour than a white kid. Should he enter into the justice system, he is more likely to be charged with a greater crime than someone with lighter skin; even if he isn’t, the black kid is more likely to be treated more harshly by judges and jurors.

Several studies have shown how blacks are more likely to be sentenced to death when their victims are white; yet another shows a correlation between death penalty sentences and typically black features. In America, the darker your skin and the fuller your lips, the higher the likelihood you will be sentenced to die for your crimes.

The truth about race, the police and Ferguson.

Much more serious than Barbara Kay’s piece:

Barbara Kay: Ferguson is the exception, not the norm in U.S. race relations

The Racial Divide Over Ferguson « The Dish

racial-divide-fergusonNo surprise in the different perceptions, but still striking.

The Racial Divide Over Ferguson « The Dish.

Watch John Oliver Deliver a Flawless Takedown of the Turmoil in Ferguson

One of the better pieces on Ferguson (15 minutes):

Watch John Oliver Deliver a Flawless Takedown of the Turmoil in Ferguson | TIME.