By Jameson Parker
Dec 7, 2014
Finally a lawmaker has put his weight behind what many people have been saying for months: this doesn’t end with Darren Wilson’s resignation, the entire Ferguson Police Department needs to go before any progress can be made.
According to Reuters, Rep. Lacy Clay (D), who serves the Ferguson area, encouraged the Justice Department to disband the entire police force, citing not just Michael Brown’s death but an entire culture that has been “oppressive” to blacks and a clueless leadership which have made problems worse, not better, in the aftermath of Brown’s shooting.
“With the patterns and practice investigation, I would hope that the Ferguson Police Department would be dissolved and the duties and responsibilities of policing Ferguson would be turned over to the St. Louis County police,” Clay said in an interview.
“They are working toward being a more diverse police force, St. Louis County is. And I think they have a little more professionalism, as well as training necessary to police diverse communities,” Clay said.
The lack of diversity in Ferguson’s police department is appalling. Despite the fact that a 2-1 majority of residents in Ferguson, Missouri, are black, the FPD comprises of 50 white officers and just three African-Americans. When asked about whether this may present a problem, FPD spokesman Timothy Zoll told Politifact he and the other employees of the department don’t see race. “The discrepancy may have been that we really don’t see black or white among our colleagues,” Zoll concluded.
Which is funny, because for a department that thinks it is racially colorblind, the officers certainly seem to find a lot of African-Americans to arrest in Ferguson – about four times as many as whites.
In Ferguson, Missouri, blacks outnumber whites by more than 2-to-1. But African-Americans are arrested at a rate roughly four times higher than their white neighbors, according to Census data and Ferguson crime statistics released by the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Ferguson’s arrest rate of blacks outpaces national and state numbers. The St. Louis suburb has been the site of unrest and protests in the wake of thepolice-involved shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager, over the weekend. [source]
Which brings us back to Rep. Clay, who hits the nail on the head: Ferguson’s police force has been operating less as a force for civil justice and more as a racially-motivated extortion racket. After noting the overwhelming number of black motorists – most of them low-income – stopped and ticketed to extract money to finance the predatory police department like some kind of racist perpetual motion machine, Clay put it succinctly: “They’re balancing their budgets on the backs of poor people.”
Rep. Clay has reason to be concerned about Ferguson’s future. It can be said that law enforcement is only as effective as the trust people have in the system, and right now the Ferguson Police Department’s level of public trust is circling the drain. It’s not just that one of its officers killed an unarmed kid and won’t be charged. It’s not just that the immediate response from the department was an orchestrated smear campaign targeting the victim. It’s not just the heavy-handed militarized response to peaceful protests. It’s all of those things and then some – extending back years.
Because of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police Department has had a powerful spotlight focussed on it, and all of its nooks and crannies have been illuminated. What was found is ugly, rotten, and most likely unfixable. Tear it down and build something new.
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