​85% of Ferguson police force targets are black - DOJ

Reuters / Mike Segar
The United States Department of Justice says that a pattern of discrimination is evident in Ferguson, Missouri, according to reports, and nearly nine-out-of-ten stops initiated by the city’s police force target African Americans.

A DOJ report that will be published later this week will show that a federal investigation concluded that police disproportionately target blacks in Ferguson, MO, law enforcement officials familiar with the probe told reporters on Tuesday.

According to the Washington Post, the report will show that the DOJ determined that African Americans account for 85 percent of all people stopped in Ferguson by the police, and that blacks receive nine out of the ten citations issued by law enforcement, on average. As of the 2010 census, African Americans make up around two-thirds of Ferguson.

The St. Louis County city of 21,000 has been at the center of debate since last July when Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was killed in broad daylight by a Ferguson cop. Six months later, US Attorney General Eric Holder said Brown’s tragic death and other similar accounts “are truly national in scope and that threaten the entire nation,” and that “our police officers cannot be seen as an occupying force disconnected from the communities they serve.”

Now, nearly a year after Brown’s death, the DOJ is expected to say that a formal investigation has indeed determined that sweeping patterns of discrimination are rampant in Ferguson, even before the July shooting.

The full Ferguson report could be made available as early as Wednesday this week, the New York Times reported, but journalists who have been briefed on the DOJ analysis ahead of publication have already hinted at what readers may expect: Matt Apuzzo, a writer for NYT, wrote on Tuesday that the “scathing report” will reveal that officers all-too often used excessive force on blacks and have been making unjustified traffic stops for years.

“In 88 percent of the cases in which the department used force, it was used against African Americans. In all of the 14 canine bite incidents for which racial information was available, the person bitten was African American,” Sari Horwitz wrote of the report for the Post on Tuesday.

“African Americans are 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by the municipal judge” in Ferguson, Horwitz added, and, according to the DOJ, 92 percent of local cases in which an arrest warrant was issued involved black suspects.

Furthermore, she added, the DOJ found that “from April to September 2014, 95 percent of people held in the Ferguson jail longer than two days were African American.” Another portion of the report will show a municipal worker sent out an email in 2008 about Barack Obama, then the president-elect, asking “what black man holds a steady job for four years."

The July 2015 death of Brown prompted demonstrators to hold rallies across the United States in an effort to raise awareness of the incident and eventually spark a public debate about policing and race relations. A grand jury ultimately decided not to charge Wilson in the shooting death of Brown, again prompting a wave of protests in late 2014.

According to the Post, DOJ investigators reviewed 35,000 pages of police records and relevant race data compiled for every stop in preparing their report.