Ferguson Police Tainted By Bias; in other news, the New York Times is now competing with the Onion for best ledes.

In all seriousness, the information presented in this article provides insight into a serious and disturbing matter. Racial inequality and a misunderstanding of cultures and subcultures have been and will continue to be a hot topic for news, primarily because it is a perpetual issue that is subject to limited resolution. This is not to say that the news accurately depicts unfair treatments–in fact, it is its’ primary breeding ground, stirring up controversies left and right and giving readers a textual and visual confirmation of the injustices that are committed towards targeted groups both domestically and worldwide.

Ferguson, Missouri has been at the center of recent talks regarding the way crimes and so-called crimes are mishandled when the perpetrator or victim (depends on how you see it) is a person of color. This can stretch even beyond ethnic backgrounds and incorporate religion, but for the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on skin color. Black people in the United States are by and far one of the most marginalized populations. They are constantly targeted, stereotyped, accused, and blamed. With the statistical evidence produced in this article that zeroes in on one city alone, it is difficult to contain scathing responses aimed at those who adamantly deny the existence of racial bias.

I began poring over this piece by highlighting the approaches that members of the Ferguson police department practiced that raised the hairs on the back of my neck and made me furiously clench my fists, until I realize that I had been doing that throughout the whole story. The Justice Department’s actions makes one consider to what extent atrocities are to be committed before any attempt at resolution is implemented. It took the deaths, nay, murders, of several African American people who are innocent in the regard that that the acts they committed to warrant aren’t nearly so dramatic as to actually call for such actions.

Let’s take a look at some of the renowned tactics that the Ferguson Police Department resorts to:

  •  Internal documents showed Ferguson police officers conducting “pedestrian checks,” in which they stopped people walking down the street and demanded to see their identification without any probable cause.
  • lacks in Ferguson accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of tickets and 93 percent of arrests over a two-year period studied by investigators.
  • A black motorist in Ferguson was twice as likely to be searched, according to the report, even though searches of whites turned up drugs and other contraband more often.
  • Court fines are a major source of revenue, and internal emails show city officials pushing for more tickets and fines, then congratulating one another when revenue exceeded expectations.
  • Federal investigators also found that city officials circulated racist jokes on their government email accounts without fear of punishment. One portrayed President Obama as a chimpanzee. Another included a photograph of African women dancing topless along with the caption “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.” A third joked that a black woman should receive a crime-prevention award for having an abortion.

The gravity of the issue at hand is to weigh in which factors contribute heavily to the root of the issue. Is it the unjust systems of power? The stereotypes that media feeds into to allow for this sort of perpetuation? The fact that it takes no effort to dismiss the long-term disastrous effects of consistently belittling minority races?

“The Justice Department’s analysis found that these disparities could not be explained even when correcting for crime rates and demographics. “These disparities occur, at least in part, because Ferguson law enforcement practices are directly shaped and perpetuated by racial bias,” the Justice Department concluded.”  NYT)

With this revelation, we should be inspired to draw parallels between a small scale police force and the racial bias in its’ tactics and observe similar approaches on a macroeconomic scale. Perhaps in doing so, we will be taking one large step for mankind.

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