On March 4th, the Department of Justice released its report on their investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. Depending on your political and/or social leanings, most people had their beliefs confirmed. Whether that belief followed the pathway of Holder was looking for an ax to grind or whether the DoJ finally brought the truth to light depends on the person.
I haven’t gone through the entire report myself. If you’re interested in reading it, I have it at the top of this post. I’m quite interested in what was found, so I’ll likely have a follow-up post once I complete my reading. Anyway, given the reports I’ve read on it and the little snippets that I’ve seen so far, I had three initial reactions to what I’ve heard thus far.
This isn’t anything new. I’ve even written about this before. Six months to the date of the release of this report, I wrote a post on what I observed being the root cause of the riots in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot. In that post, I discussed the financial fleecing of the residents of St. Louis County by the municipalities there through traffic fines, arrests, and such. To hear FPD using initiatives to fill the coffers was not a surprise at all given what I already knew about the policing in that area.
Given the nature of the topic, I wasn’t surprised to see that most debate of the substance of the report devolved into discussing the criminality of Black Americans. Instead of focusing on what the report is bringing to light, many people appear to support the belief that innocent Black people deserve to be treated as criminals just because other Black people commit crimes. Whether it’s the excuse of “more policing in areas of more crime which happens to be Black neighborhoods” or some other lame assed idea, I haven’t seen nowhere near the response that I thought I would see.
How many people, not in minority groups, ever worry about getting stopped by the police just for existing? Do you fear walking down the street because you might get pulled over and patted down? It may sound like a minor inconvenience to you when you don’t have to fear such tactics, but there are Americans, innocent Americans, who are having their rights violated. We should all be afforded the protections enshrined in the Constitution, and many of the examples pulled from that report are textbook cases of abusing the rights of citizens. This brings me to my third reaction
How many years have we had people wearing the tri-cornered hats, holding rallies, making speeches, and talking about stopping government oppression of American citizens? Now that there has been examples of actual government oppression of Americans, what do we hear immediately from those groups fighting “government oppression”?
If we don’t stand up for the least among us, who will stand up for us when we need it?
One final thought… Given my line of work, I know there are good and great cops out there putting their lives on the line every day. I have no problem with them, and I say a prayer that everyone makes it home to their families at the end of the day. That said, there are some officers that do not need to be protected or covered for. There’s a difference between being an asshole cop who just likes to give people a hard time as opposed to one who abuses his position and power. Those who belong to the latter group should definitely be removed from their positions. I see where the mayor of Ferguson put disciplinary action on a few officers. Something tells me that, in a force of 53-55 officers, there were more than two to three officers responsible for the information in that DoJ report. If the mayor expects to earn the respect of those wronged, he’s going to have to do better than what he’s done thus far. For his sake and the sake of his city, I hope this is only the beginning of his cleaning out of the FPD.