After a critical investigation into the Ferguson Police Department held by the Justice Department, reports revealing discriminatory practices against African-Americans through the use of traffic stops which highlight the earlier tensions in a town that ultimately spiraled into a frenzy late last year. It was Michael Brown’s death in August by former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, which acted as the catalyst for the investigation.
According to the New York Times, several officials concluded that the reports will read that the city was unfairly ticketing and arresting African-Americans as a means to balance the city’s budget. The soon to be released document will require Ferguson officials to take accountability and action for their unethical policing.
The report, which is expected to be released as early as this week, will force Ferguson officials to either negotiate a settlement with the Justice Department or face being sued by it on civil rights charges. Either way, the result is likely to be significant changes inside the Ferguson Police Department, which is at the center of a national debate over race and policing.
The NYT also reports information regarding traffic stops involving African Americans in Missouri from the past year.
Blacks accounted for 86 percent of traffic stops in 2013 but make up 63 percent of the population, according to the most recent data published by the Missouri attorney general. And once they were stopped, black drivers were twice as likely to be searched, even though searches of white drivers were more likely to turn up contraband.
Last week James Knowles III, mayor of Ferguson, criticized Eric H. Holder for saying that ‘wholesale change’ needed to take place in the Ferguson Police department, and then questioned the actions of the Justice Department by saying, “How come they haven’t told us there is something that needs to be changed as they found it and why have they allowed whatever they think is happening to continue to happen for six months if that’s the case?”