NBC News reports today that two officials under investigation for using city email to send racist commentaries have resigned. Another employee was fired late Wednesday in the wake of the release of the Department of Justice report on racism within the police department and the courts. The report found both systemic and widespread discrimination against African-Americans which included:

Ferguson’s approach to law enforcement both reflects and reinforces racial bias,
including stereotyping. The harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices are borne
disproportionately by African Americans, and there is evidence that this is due in part to
intentional discrimination on the basis of race.
Ferguson’s law enforcement practices overwhelmingly impact African Americans. Data
collected by the Ferguson Police Department from 2012 to 2014 shows that African Americans
account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made by FPD officers,
despite comprising only 67% of Ferguson’s population. African Americans are more than twice
as likely as white drivers to be searched during vehicle stops even after controlling for non-race
based variables such as the reason the vehicle stop was initiated, but are found in possession of
contraband 26% less often than white drivers, suggesting officers are impermissibly considering
race as a factor when determining whether to search. African Americans are more likely to be
cited and arrested following a stop regardless of why the stop was initiated and are more likely to
receive multiple citations during a single incident. From 2012 to 2014, FPD issued four or more
citations to African Americans on 73 occasions, but issued four or more citations to non-African
Americans only twice. FPD appears to bring certain offenses almost exclusively against African
Americans. For example, from 2011 to 2013, African Americans accounted for 95% of Manner
of Walking in Roadway charges, and 94% of all Failure to Comply charges. Notably, with 5
respect to speeding charges brought by FPD, the evidence shows not only that African
Americans are represented at disproportionately high rates overall, but also that the disparate
impact of FPD’s enforcement practices on African Americans is 48% larger when citations are
issued not on the basis of radar or laser, but by some other method, such as the officer’s own
visual assessment.

These disparities are also present in FPD’s use of force. Nearly 90% of documented
force used by FPD officers was used against African Americans. In every canine bite incident
for which racial information is available, the person bitten was African American.
Municipal court practices likewise cause disproportionate harm to African Americans.
African Americans are 68% less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by the court, and
are more likely to have their cases last longer and result in more required court encounters.
African Americans are at least 50% more likely to have their cases lead to an arrest warrant, and
accounted for 92% of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued by the Ferguson Municipal
Court in 2013. Available data show that, of those actually arrested by FPD only because of an
outstanding municipal warrant, 96% are African American.
Our investigation indicates that this disproportionate burden on African Americans
cannot be explained by any difference in the rate at which people of different races violate the
law. Rather, our investigation has revealed that these disparities occur, at least in part, because
of unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African Americans. We have found substantial
evidence of racial bias among police and court staff in Ferguson. For example, we discovered
emails circulated by police supervisors and court staff that stereotype racial minorities as
criminals, including one email that joked about an abortion by an African-American woman
being a means of crime control.
City officials have frequently asserted that the harsh and disparate results of Ferguson’s
law enforcement system do not indicate problems with police or court practices, but instead
reflect a pervasive lack of “personal responsibility” among “certain segments” of the community.
Our investigation has found that the practices about which area residents have complained are in
fact unconstitutional and unduly harsh. But the City’s personal-responsibility refrain is telling:
it reflects many of the same racial stereotypes found in the emails between police and court
supervisors. This evidence of bias and stereotyping, together with evidence that Ferguson has
long recognized but failed to correct the consistent racial disparities caused by its police and
court practices, demonstrates that the discriminatory effects of Ferguson’s conduct are driven at
least in part by discriminatory intent in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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