Has Ferguson Gotten Better?

Ken AshfordRace, Racial Homicides, Rightwing Extremism/ViolenceLeave a Comment

One year after the arrest and killing of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man, Ferguson seems to be in deeper trouble than ever.  Several investigations, including one by the DOJ, found that the police officer did not act improperly in the shooting of Michael Brown.  BUT the DOJ found that the police department was ethically un-diverse (compared to the general population) and was systematically targeting the minority community for everything from major offenses to traffic violations.  One year on, political leaders have changed or been replaced, but

A year after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown sparked a firestorm in Ferguson, the city is still pumping out thousands of new arrest warrants and jailing people over minor offenses, according to an exclusive CNNMoney analysis.

This practice continues despite a scathing report from the Department of Justice in March that found that Ferguson’s police department and municipal court were unconstitutionally targeting low-income and minority residents with tickets and fines for minor offenses — often in pursuit of revenue. The report noted that there were more than 16,000 people (residents and non-residents alike) with outstanding arrest warrants as of the end of last year, equivalent to around 75% of the town’s population.

While the police were the ones giving out the tickets, the DOJ slammed the city’s court for using arrest warrants to squeeze money out of the people least able to afford the fines. Even though there need to be repercussions for people who break the law and ignore their tickets, the DOJ says jail time is far too harsh a punishment for infractions that rarely pose a major threat to public safety.

But in the wake of the DOJ report, CNNMoney found that Ferguson is still at it. The city has issued more than 2,300 new arrest warrants so far this year and thousands of older warrants continue to haunt people — even as neighboring municipalities are wiping out old tickets or warrants entirely.

The court clerk fired over racist emails that surfaced during the DOJ investigation has a new job with another Missouri court… six miles away from Ferguson.  That’s not progress either.

And this weekend saw violence as well as a shooting.  However, reports suggest that a black man was shooting directly at police cars, and police shot back and seriously wounded him.  If those are the actual facts, I don’t think that can be pinned on police.  People like that…. #nothelping.

But according to news reports, little has changed within the police department.  And it doesn’t look like their tactics have changed much.  On the radio, I heard someone describe the protests this week compared to those from one year ago.  He said, “One year ago it was like 1955; this weekend it was like 1965”.  Meaning… much more chaos.

And speaking of #nothelping, this happened….

As St. Louis County Police stage mass arrests of black protesters for suspicion of possessing weapons, tonight in Ferguson, Missouri, the extreme right wing militia Oath Keepers are stalking the streets openly carrying assault rifles.


Why were they there?  They were sent by conspiracy lunatic Alex Jones to protect his “reporters.”  To get a sense of what these guys are about… see the guy in the picture above?  Watch him in the video below:

The race problem meets the rightwing extremism problem.  This has disaster written all over it.

UPDATE:  I read over at Mother Jones this:

During the same time last year, Oath Keeper members took it upon themselves to guard the city’s rooftops with assault rifles. Police officials eventually ordered the group to leave, saying their presence was inciting fear and suspicion in an already tense situation. However, no members were arrested.

I did not know they were there last year as well.  However, I wonder what the police would have done last year (or this year) if it was an armed black militant group on the streets for the same reason.  Would the police simply have “ordered” them to leave…. with no arrests?