Sometimes in reporting a story, it's easy to use an exaggerated adjective to compare injustice today to an injustice experienced at some other difficult period of human history. Now that the full DOJ report on Ferguson
has been released, though, it's increasingly clear that the sick conflation of racism, the American profit-motive, and an abusive use of the criminal justice system were used to create a police state of historic proportions in this small Missouri town.
With just 21,000 residents, Ferguson issued a staggering 32,975 arrest warrants for at least 16,000 different people. Not just parking tickets, Ferguson averaged 567 non-traffic related court cases per 1,000 residents—far and away the highest of any town in the state and more than twice as much as the town with the second highest average. To put that into perspective, the city of St. Louis had 80 non-traffic court cases per 1,000 residents and that's actually above the state average for Missouri.
Devised and constantly accelerated by Ferguson CEO John Shaw, who recently resigned in disgrace but somehow negotiated an outrageous severance package, this system of profiteering off of a complete police state that is despicable. In fact, it's hard to find anything quite comparable not only in America, but in any city in the world.
Being black in Ferguson meant being a part of an artificially criminalized underclass which is damn near impossible to escape. While Ferguson CEO John Shaw earned an increasing income in the six figures off of the backs of the people, his municipal judge Ronald Brockmeyer bought three homes around St. Louis and racked up debts to the IRS of over $170,000, all while being completely relentless and unforgiving with black residents.
Call it American Apartheid, the New Jim Crow, or just call it Ferguson—whatever we decide to name it, it's abundantly clear that the system of discrimination and criminalization of African Americans devised and pushed to the brink in Ferguson must be stopped.
If you find a city, past or present, with:
1. 50 percent more arrest warrants than people,
2. Active warrants for 75 percent of its population,
3. Non-traffic citations higher than 567 per 1,000 people,
Please let me know in the comments below or send me a personal message.