Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Policing by Fleecing, in Ferguson and Beyond
"The most important thing to understand about the problems with the police force in Ferguson, Mo., is that they’re not unique to Ferguson.

An investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, launched after a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, would be upsetting, infuriating — pick your adjective of outrage — if Ferguson were a one-off.

The 102-page report depicts a department — indeed, an entire city bureaucracy — more focused on raising revenue than protecting public safety. Ferguson used its police force and court system to make ends meet — on the backs of poor and minority residents.

As described in the report, Ferguson police, under pressure to bring in fines to boost the city’s coffers, pile on multiple, often bogus, charges for minor infractions. Then they top that up with additional charges, fines, fees and even jail time for those who fail to pay promptly and in full.
Police see residents, especially African Americans, 'less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue,' the investigation found."

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