The U.S. Justice Department has released a scathing report based on its investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri, police department, in which it says that local law enforcement engaged in broad pattern of conduct that routinely violated the constitutional rights of African-Americans.
Here’s what you should know:
1. At least one municipal employee thought electing a black president was laughable.
An unearthed 2008 email message stated that President Barack Obama would not be president for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years?”
2. Another employee seemed to think the idea of a black woman getting an abortion was funny – and would stop crime.
A May 2011 email stated: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’”
3. Black people were 100% more likely than white people to be bitten by police dogs.
In each of the 14 cases involving someone being bitten by a police dog, the victim was black.
4. Ferguson is predominately black yet its police force is 97% white.
African-Americans make up nearly 70% of the city’s population but only about 3% of Ferguson’s police department.
5. Black people in Ferguson were much more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people, but were rarely found carrying anything illegal or stolen.
According to the report, blacks made up 67% of the population between 2012 and 2014 but were 85% of those subject to a vehicle stop. Despite being more than twice as likely to be searched by police, blacks were 26% less likely than others to be found with illegal contraband.
6. 90% of police citations during the span of the report went to black people.
In other words, only 10% of those who received a citation from the police were not black.
7. Police were much more likely to use force on black people.
In 88% of documented incidents in which police used of force against someone, that person was black.
8. Black people with infractions of any kind in Ferguson – even something as minor as a parking ticket – were extremely unlikely to get their case dismissed.
Blacks in Ferguson were 68% less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by the municipal judge and were disproportionately likely to have a warrant issued against them, according to the report.
9. The police made mad money off all of those cases that didn’t get dismissed.
Fines for failure to appear in court charges, for example, accounted for nearly 25% of total court revenue in 2013. $442,901 to be exact.
10. A mere 5% of those held in a Ferguson jail for more than two days were not black.
Yep. 95% of those jailed for more than two days between April and September 2014 were black.
Bonus: As of December 2014, 16,000 people had outstanding arrest warrants issued by the Ferguson Municipal Court, most of them for minor violations such as parking and traffic infractions. That is more than 76% of the entire population of Ferguson, Mo.