This is about more than Michael Brown.
If you thought the protests in Ferguson were only a response to the shooting and death of Michael Brown, these numbers might change your mind.
That’s for a city of 21,135 people.
All those fines and fees were a big boost to the city’s finances. Of Ferguson’s $20 million in revenue in 2013, $2.6 million of that was a result of these arrests. That’s good for the city’s second-highest income stream, NPR notes.
A racial disparity makes this much worse: Of course, those arrest warrants aren’t handed out equally for everyone in the city. Many are issued for traffic violations, for which black residents are disproportionately stopped. Eighty-six percent of those stopped by police are black, even though they only make up two-thirds of Ferguson’s population. Compare that to whites, who are stopped less than 13% of the time, despite making up 29% of the population.
Another infuriating thing to consider: While blacks in Ferguson were twice as likely to be searched after being stopped — and twice as likely to be arrested — searching whites was actually more likely to produce contraband, according to a report from ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-based public defender group.
"Folks have the impression that this is a form of low-level harassment that isn’t about public safety," the group’s founder, Thomas Harvey, told NPR. “It’s about money.”
Major impact: It’s not just police procedures that take their toll. The ArchCity Defenders report notes that the municipal court in Ferguson will start hearings early, then lock the doors five minutes after the scheduled start time, meaning someone showing up just a little bit late for a hearing can receive an additional “failure to appear” fine.
The impact these procedures have on public opinion is clear. “They’re searching to find something wrong,” one defendant said in the report. “If you dig deep enough, you’ll always find dirt.”
Brown’s death was a tragedy well beyond the scale of a car search or court fine. But statistics like these give insight into the anger of many protesters.
Source: Matt Connolly for Mic
This is happening in many municipalities due to shrinking revenue from the recession and tax cuts. Poor people are being squeezed to make up the difference in budgets.
So local governments are not only profiling, harassing, and in some cases, assaulting and murdering the poor and POC, but extracting their operating costs from them too.
— James Baldwin, “A Report from Occupied Territory” The Nation, July 11, 1966
— Eesha Pandit, “If You Are Black or Brown in America, Your Parents’ Warnings Can’t Keep You Safe”
- The idea that “if you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to fear” does not hold true for black people. Most people who end up being exonerated for crimes they served time for, but didn’t commit, are people of color.
- Blacks routinely serve higher sentences than whites—for the same crimes.
- Once in custody, black men are rough-handled by police more often than whites.
- Racial profiling and bias in police departments across the country is well-documented.
- There are many well-known cases of police torture directed at blacks in prison, such as the dozens of black Chicago inmates who were systematically tortured over a span of 20 years.
Scientific studies shed light on how racial bias can influence witness testimony, like this finding that race can make people “see” guns, or a reach for a gun, where no weapon was present.
Asking why a black man with even the slightest bit of awareness of these facts wouldn’t fully cooperate with the cops is a bit like asking why William Wallace didn’t simply extend a warm welcome to the invading English forces. Here’s a better question: What are law enforcement agencies doing to heal their relationships with the black communities they’re supposed to protect and serve?
Let’s not forget that the charge of “resisting arrest” is oftentimes bullshit, something cops will either lie about or instigate by violently confronting people over very minor charges in order to give them a stronger case for arresting (or brutalizing) someone.
The 2nd Amendment trumps the 1st Amendment because in Republicanworld, you list the most important things second.
If you google ‘Eric Garner’ I guarantee you that almost every article by major media outlets will list some or all of the following: Garner’s height, weight, his (alleged) past criminal history, and that the police supposedly thought he was “illegally” selling cigarettes. And all this information will be in the first few paragraphs.
Here’s what most corporate news outlets won’t make so readily available (you may have to dig for it): precisely how many officers ganged up on Garner, their complete police histories, any crimes they may have committed in their personal lives, and not even the names of all the involved officers are listed. And you may or may not have read that Garner clearly said he couldn’t breathe at least six times, and that multiple witnesses said Garner had just arrived on scene and broken up an altercation.
The media is hardly objective and they begin covering for the police and victimizing the victim very early on. These lopsided “facts” and seemingly minor omissions is only the beginning. Wait until it goes to court. Then you won’t believe how much news outlets, the police and defense attorneys will demonize Mr. Garner.
Unless you’re Black. Then this is an all too familiar pattern.
From Emmett Till to Rodney King to The Central Park Five to Oscar Grant to Amadou Diallo to Sean Bell to Trayvon Martin to Renisha McBride to Jonathan Ferrell to Jordan Davis to Eric Garner and so very many others…even though we’re always unarmed, there is never a shortage of disproportionately White juries eager to conclude that the act of merely existing while Black is always sufficient justification for inflicting brutality, imprisonment or murder onto any unfamiliar Black bodies
Seems like it’s always the same old song and dance whenever Black people seek justice from the system made to imprison us: Criminalizing Blackness — White people may commit crimes, but Black people are always viewed as criminals.
"How large is America’s prison problem? More than 2.4 million people are behind bars in the United States today, either awaiting trial or serving a sentence. That’s more than the combined population of 15 states, all but three U.S. cities, and the U.S. armed forces. They’re scattered throughout a constellation of 102 federal prisons, 1,719 state prisons, 2,259 juvenile facilities, 3,283 local jails, and many more military, immigration, territorial, and Indian Countryfacilities.”
Land of the Free, ya’ll
The federal agency that sets criminal sentencing policies for judges voted on Friday to allow tens of thousands of inmates serving time for drug crimes to apply for reduced sentences, the largest such sentencing reduction in modern U.S. history.
The unanimous vote by the seven members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission will apply to most drug offenders in federal prisons, according to the commission.
Their decision came after the commission studied the results of a similar 2007 vote that affected only those serving time for crack cocaine offenses and found that inmates released early posed no greater risk of committing another crime than those who served their full terms…
Congress has until November 1 to disapprove of the commission’s decision. If lawmakers let the new rules stand, judges across the country can begin considering individual petitions from inmates for sentence reductions, but no prisoners can be released until Nov. 1, 2015, according to a special rule added by the commissioners.
Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Employment Division v. Smith (1990). The Court ruled that the state could deny unemployment benefits to Smith, who had been fired for using peyote as part of his religion.
The ruling led to the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibited laws that posed a “substantial” burden to one’s free exercise of religion.
Let me get this straight.
The closures are not an undue burden, write the judges because “it takes less than three hours on Texas highways” to get to Corpus Christi. (The Corpus Christi clinic is expected to close in September.) “Although some clinics may be required to shut their doors, there is no showing whatsoever that any woman will lack reasonable access to a clinic within Texas,” they add, but only heed evidence from the trial in October, when the law had barely taken effect.
Taking several days off from work and driving 560 miles to the nearest abortion clinic (pdf) is not an undue burden. Filling out paperwork is.
See you godfuckers in November.
John Holbo, “Let Freedom Ring!”
Conservatives honestly seem to think the rest of us are idiots who can’t keep up with their ‘clever’ political and legal maneuvering and dog whistles.
Keep it up, assholes, and you’ll not only kiss the White House goodbye for another eight years, but you may end up losing seats in what should be an easy mid-term election for you this fall.