U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has just announced that the Justice Department isn’t going to let the Ferguson Police Department continue to operate in the provably racist way they have been for the past couple of years:
“We are prepared to use all the power that we have … to ensure that the situation changes there,” Holder told reporters. Asked if that included dismantling the Ferguson Police Department, Holder said, “If that’s what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that.”
Holder’s comments came on the heels of a scathing Justice Department report that found the 54-man police department guilty of a multitude of Civil Rights violations against the majority-black population.
The DOJ report found that the small Missouri department violated the rights of African-Americans consistently. Even though they only account for 67% of the Ferguson population, between 2012-2014 they made up 93% of the arrests. The police also ticketed black residents at a much higher rate than their white counterparts. If you think that sounds disproportionately high, you are right.
Almost as if the DOJ heard the right-wing say,”Well, that just means that the blacks are the ones committing the crimes! They should stop being such thugs!” they clarified that the arrest rates are absolutely not because African-Americans in the city are lawless thugs:
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 and stereotypes about African Americans.
Basically, Holder’s DOJ found that the Ferguson police have been operating like they are working in 1960 Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of doing what they are paid and trusted to do, protect their citizens, they are discriminating and harassing them in a discriminatory basis.
All of this led to the eruption that played on televisions across the world after Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown. Is it any surprise there were riots after Ferguson’s black population have suffered prolonged and systematic abuse by the very people they are supposed to protect? Of course not.
For years, the police have operated unchecked and Attorney General Holder is letting them know that it is no longer going to be business as usual. They will no longer be allowed to violate the rights of the African-Americans in their city because they feel like it. They will no longer be allowed to run their police department as if its sole purpose it to generate revenue.
They have been put on notice: either their abuse ends or they will.
It’s going to be a sad day when Holder leaves his position as Attorney General. He has done an amazing job of rooting out and eradicating the abusive racism that the right-wing has turned a blind-eye too for far too long.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.