In Ferguson, as in Georgia, a smothering repression

ferguson-missouri-police-4-08132014-1By now you’ve probably seen the numbers, numbers that give us some idea why the killing of Michael Brown touched off such an emotional response in the town of Ferguson, Ill., a town that is 67 percent black but until quite recently was patrolled with a police force that had one black officer.

According to a Justice Department investigation:

— 85 percent of those stopped by Ferguson police between 2012 and 2014 were African American.
— 90 percent of citations issued were issued to African-Americans.
— 93 percent of those arrested were African-American.
— 88 percent of use-of-force cases by police officers occurred against African Americans.
— 100 percent of those bitten by Ferguson police dogs were African American.
— Black Americans were 68 percent less likely to have their cases dismissed in Ferguson municipal court.
— 96 percent of those stopped in a traffic stop and arrested for outstanding warrants were African American.
— 95 percent of those held in the Ferguson jail longer than two days were African American.
— 95 percent of “Walking in Roadway” charges — the circumstances that led to Brown’s confrontation with Officer Darren Wilson — were filed against African Americans.
— 94 percent of “Failure to Comply” charges were filed against African Americans.
— 92 percent of disturbing the peace charges were filed against African Americans.
— Black drivers were twice as likely to be searched for guns or drugs, yet were less likely than white drivers to be found with such contraband.

In addition, the Justice Department investigation uncovered multiple examples of racist emails sent back and forth among Ferguson police and court officials, including police commanders and court supervisors. Examples cited include an October 2011 e-mail that “included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”

The emails themselves are damning enough. The fact that those operating within the internal culture of Ferguson’s city government felt free to send them, without apparent fear of repercussions, is even more damning.

And then there’s the fact that Ferguson “acts less like a municipality and more like a self-perpetuating business enterprise, extracting money from poor blacks that it uses as revenue to sustain the city’s budget,” as the New York Times puts it:

“The efficiency of Ferguson’s system was as striking in the report as the bluntness with which officials acknowledged it.

‘Unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections,” wrote the city’s finance director to the Ferguson police chief in March 2010. “What are your thoughts?”

Three years later, the finance director wrote to the city manager, saying that he had asked “the Chief if he thought the PD could deliver 10% increase. He indicated they could try.”

The revenue-generating enterprise described in the report begins with the police, who, under pressure to “fill the revenue pipeline,” compete with one another to see how many citations they can issue in a single traffic stop. Those cited are then summoned before a court to face fines that city officials boast are among the highest in the region, with hundreds of dollars levied for such violations as “peace disturbance,” “failure to comply” and “manner of walking.” For all three violations, more than nine out of 10 of those cited were black.”

Given those attitudes and circumstances — a policing model driven by revenue, not by justice, imposed on a black community by an almost exclusively white bureaucracy that was at the very least tolerant of casual expressions of racism — it’s easy to see how Ferguson might become a resentful tinderbox awaiting a spark, a spark that came when Officer Darren Wilson confronted Brown over allegedly walking in the street.

It’s also hard to ignore the disturbing parallels between Ferguson’s revenue-driven policing model and Georgia’s scandalous, largely privatized misdemeanor probation that treats poor misdemeanor offenders as a major profit center.

As AJC reporter Carrie Teegardin reported Sunday:

“Misdemeanor probation companies have grown and prospered across Georgia because city and county courts require so many people to use probation services. Tens of thousands of low-income people who can’t afford traffic fines end up on probation, along with people guilty of higher-level misdemeanors: DUIs, shoplifting, possession of marijuana and some domestic violence charges.

As a result, Georgia reported the nation’s largest probation population at the end of 2013, with 514,000 cases. More than 300,000 of those were misdemeanors cases…

The AJC found that some probation companies have convinced local courts to authorize a buffet of questionable charges that go way beyond the monthly supervision fee.

Some courts allow “orientation” and “set-up” fees of $25 or more. There are picture fees ranging from $2 to $15, while “insurance” fees associated with a week of community service work often add another $15 to the tab. Drug-screening fees are part of the fee schedule too, with some judges allowing $15 charges and others authorizing $25.”

As an example of the impact, Teegardin cites the case of a single mother on disability who got hit with a $920 fine for speeding and failure to have insurance. When the woman explained in court that she was too poor to pay, she was put on probation with a private company, and the cash register started ringing:

“The probation charges included an administrative fee ($50), picture fee ($15), 12 months of probation fees ($35 a month) and the state’s crime victim fee ($9 a month). She was even hit with a drug test fee on a case that had nothing to do with alcohol or drugs. That added another $25. The total cost? Over $1,500.

“I already thought the fine was a lot — over $900 for the two tickets and they were just traffic citations,” said Hutcheson, who lives in Darien. “It ended up being so much more.”

Threatened with arrest if she didn’t pay, she was able to hand over $640. She got no relief from a formal complaint, but a local judge agreed to dismiss her case in January after widespread problems at the probation company came to light.”

You hear a lot of complaining and whining about government repression these days, and most of it is vastly overblown. Almost none of it compares in scale or impact to the systematic repression and economic exploitation perpetrated in these cases by government against those already without the means, knowledge or power to complain effectively.

And most of the time, those of us lucky enough to escape those categories don’t even know that it exists.

Reader Comments 0

1749 comments
BigTimeJacketFan
BigTimeJacketFan

And yet the DOJ (eric holder land) is not going to charge  the police officer.


Hands up, don't shoot never happened.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

PPACA sheetz...awhile ago, I see, but just in case I'm not the last one here.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

As though our esteemed Republican bloggers need a reason not to vote for Hillary while ignoring all the reasons not to vote for Mitt or any of their other preferred candidates.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

LT (and others)--did you happen to see this, about what becomes of those who dare to cross those "harmless" white collar criminals in our midst?

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/a-whistleblowers-horror-story-20150218

One man's story in particular highlights just about everything that can go wrong when you give evidence against your bosses in America: former Countrywide/Bank of America whistleblower Michael Winston.

I visited with Michael in California last year and spoke with him over the phone several times in recent weeks. If you think you've had a tough year, wait until you hear his story.

Two years ago this month, Winston was being celebrated in the news as a hero. He'd blown the whistle on Countrywide Financial, the bent mortgage lender that one could plausibly argue nearly blew up the global economy in the last decade with its reckless subprime lending practices.

He described Countrywide's crazy plan to give anyone who could breathe a mortgage in a memorable January, 2013 episode of Frontline called "The Untouchables," a show that caught the eyes of several influential politicians in Washington. The documentary inspired Senate hearings and even the crafting of new legislation to combat too-big-to-jail corruption in the financial world.

[...]

He says he's spent over a million dollars fighting Countrywide (and the firm that acquired it, Bank of America) in court. At first, that fight proved a good gamble, as a jury granted him a multi-million-dollar award for retaliation and wrongful termination.

But after Winston won that case, an appellate judge not only wiped out that jury verdict, but allowed Bank of America to counterattack him with a vengeance.

Last summer, the bank vindictively put a lien on Winston's house (one he'd bought, ironically, with a Countrywide mortgage). The bank eventually beat him for nearly $98,000 in court costs.

That single transaction means a good guy in the crisis drama, Winston, had by the end of 2014 paid a larger individual penalty than virtually every wrongdoer connected with the financial collapse of 2008.



Normd
Normd

While I am concerned (but not surprised) at Hillary's lack of forthcoming, and in spite of our right wing brothers and sisters jumping for joy over this "emailgate", it's still not going to matter much.  Hillary still carries too much voter weight and unless they find an email saying she assassinated JFK, the voters won't care much.  She's still got the White House if she wants it.  But have fun all y'all...

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

@Normd HAHAHAHA........we know we know......what difference does it matter.....right?

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

When is Hillary going to climb Mt. Everest?.....

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

Hillary and family in the Haitian gold business.....how convenient

But,but....the bushes......

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

So today the DNC talking point is "Sarah Palin did it first ".  Oh boy, that's a stinger that will surely quiet the discussion over HRH HRC's failure to follow State Department regulations.  I remember when Sister Sarah was Secretary of State, she conducted all her official business on Facebook messaging.

LeninTime
LeninTime

Which 'culture' do you think is responsible for criminality on a wider scale in our system, John Buck, the largely African American and other minority hoods, or Wall Street banks? 

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@LeninTime Apples and oranges....Are there more car thefts than SEC scams?  absolutely....Dollar loss on SEC scams vs car thefts....That's a different matter.  Is either one right?  No....A strong arm robber gets away with $2,000.  A white collar crime walks away with 2 million..The difference in perception is the terror.  The white collar would never physically confront the victim.  The strong arm robber causes physical terror and is much more feared even though he causes less harm.  


Have you really never considered this?  Do you truly believe that our reaction to the street thug and the white collar thug should be the same?.  

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

a quick scan of the news.google would indicate that the Liberal Hollywood Elite via Harrison Ford have conspired to get HitlaryEmailGhazi off the front page.

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

@Visual_Cortex Glad Mr. Ford is going to be alright.  Scary situation, but that was nothing compared to flying the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field.

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

Police Officer Robert Wilson, III Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania

End of Watch: Thursday, March 5, 2015

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

It requires a change of attitude. All people matter.

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

Those who have actually patrolled similar areas know why the statistics look like they do....You simply can't voice the true cause because society has its head in the sand. Different cultures tolerate different standards of behavior.  The laws represent only one standard.  If your culture allows you to behave in a fashion that is contrary to the law, you're going to get jacked up by the police.  Is that bias..no...Either you are violating the law or not.  It's amazing to me, well not really, how so many of you refuse to acknowledge other causes for the statistics and insist on blaming white police officers without asking all the questions...like...How many African Americans applied for the Police Department...Why were they not hired.  It's far easier for a liberal to be a bandwagoner and be offended than to be honest about a situation and examine it fully.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnBuck2

your culture allows you to behave in a fashion that is contrary to the law

Yeah, it's all about "their" culture. riiiight. 

that one "they" made all by their lonesomes.


LeninTime
LeninTime

How many African Americans applied for the Police Department.

***
Lol.  


LeninTime
LeninTime

@JohnBuck2

If your culture allows you to behave in a fashion that is contrary to the law

***
What was the 'culture' by the way that led the mortgage underwriters to robosign and forge hundreds of thousands of mortgage agreements in the go go years of the pre-crash bubble before 2007? 

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@Visual_Cortex @JohnBuck2 absolutely....well...society in

a general has tolerated the single mother birth rate, drug abuse, high school drop out rate, teen pregnancy rate 


KUTGF
KUTGF

@JohnBuck2  LOL...Yes ask the gentlemen sitting in his car cooling off after a basketball game about why he would blame the poor white police officer.  I mean his "culture" was just so wrong.  Sitting  in a car.  On my.

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@LeninTime @JohnBuck2....I wasn't aware that bad mortgage underwriters are the primary cause for street thuggery...If that's the case.    I stand corrected.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@JohnBuck2

No, that's not what I was suggesting. What I'm suggesting is that you have a conveniently 'selective' view of what constitutes criminality ('thuggery'), choosing to focus on the crime-ridden streets in one part of the culture but curiously overlooking criminality in another street. Namely, Wall Street.

Wonder why that would be, John Buck?  

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@KUTGF @JohnBuck2 YOu see...There you go....I walked up on three young brothers who decided they deserved my car electronics more than I did...and had to run to stay safe.  Those three people were criminals....There is no knee jerk reaction to cast the blame on all young black males....but you attribute individual evil to everyone who looks like that guy


LeninTime
LeninTime

@JohnBuck2 @KUTGF

There you go....I walked up on three young brothers who decided they deserved my car electronics

***
Hmm, so our economic system is one where ownership of goods is apportioned based on merit. 

Interesting.

JohnBuck2
JohnBuck2

@LeninTime @JohnBuck2 Maybe it's because I realize that typically white collar crime isn't what threatens people in the streets...It's not done by physical bullies and it's not patrolled by police officers.    It's investigated, usually years later, because it's committed behind closed doors.....Your reference makes no sense....If you have the magic technique to be able to identify and prove mortgage fraud as easily as prostitution or drug sales....you need to write the book...Both are serious but different issues.  You can't ignore one simply because the other is harder to prove.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@JohnBuck2 @KUTGF

Those three people were criminals

And to ask why, and how they got that way... well that's just below your pay grade, amirite?

LeninTime
LeninTime

@JohnBuck2

Maybe it's because I realize that typically white collar crime isn't what threatens people in the streets

***
It doesn't threaten people in the streets? 

Who runs the loan sharking shops that dot the landscape in low income neighborhoods? 

As far as a magic technique to identify and prove mortgage fraud committed behind closed doors, it's not any more complicated really than prosecuting prostitution. That's what we have financial regulators and courts for. What's needed are leaders who actually follow through with prosecutions rather than offering immunity for financial crime. Nothing harder to prove about it at all. People used to be prosecuted for it all the time. Today, not so much. And that has to do largely with will. And the fact that citizens such as yourself choose to focus your attention on petty street crime instead of directing your ire towards those criminal actors who carry out their crime in glass buildings is a significant component that translates to that lack of will at the highest level of our society.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@DownInAlbany @Numbers_R_Us Tell us again what office she once held and which other office she ran for.  Then tell us how any of that information alters the fact that she is a hypocrite.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Numbers_R_Us @DownInAlbany 

Thursday on ABCs “World News with David Muir,” chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl said a “senior state department official ” told ABC news former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was violating policy for all four  years she served, because while Clinton was exclusively emailing all official State Department business using her private email account with private servers maintained at her residence, she was required to turn over those emails at the time, not five years later.

Karl said, “Today, ABC News has learned Hillary Clinton violated State Department email policy for all four years she served as secretary of state. A senior State Department official tells us, while Mrs. Clinton was secretary, State Department employees were only allowed to use private email if they turned them over to be entered into government computers, and until they did that, they were in violation of the rules. Mrs. Clinton did not turn over emails until late last year, nearly two years after she stepped down as secretary.”

Hypocrites on both sides...

KUTGF
KUTGF

@Numbers_R_Us @DownInAlbany  Amazing how the RWers are whining about "what they knows" about the Hillary emails and its "different" because she may run for office.  How are those Romney tax returns coming? 

KUTGF
KUTGF

Democratic Guest Mark Hannah said that the Ferguson protests did not start “because of some misquote of ‘hands up’ or ‘don’t shoot.’” He tried to explain that there was a “perception…”

But we never got to hear about that perception because Kelly didn’t want to hear about the racism and improprieties uncovered by the investigation. No, now that Wilson had been exonerated, it was time to convict Al Sharpton and other black leaders who had joined the “hands up, don’t shoot” protests.

Kelly interrupted, “Why do you discount that it was both of those things, that it was people like Al Sharpton out there stoking the fires and, separately, these terrible relations between the police force and the community?” ...

Hannah noted that “bad behavior” didn’t begin to describe the misdeeds of the Ferguson police department. He also said the report found “a broad pattern of racist policing that gives all cops a bad name.”

Hannah was correct. ...

But in Kelly’s mind, the only real crime was black people protesting with the phrase, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

She started shouting, “So that justifies this, Mark?” She showed a group of people standing peacefully with their hands up. “What we saw? All these folks with their hands up, don’t shoot? Which DID. NOT. HAPPEN!”

As Kelly should know, there are many phrases that have become lodged in the public mind that are not accurate. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said Israel should be “wiped off the map,” Sarah Palin never said “I can see Russia from my house” (Tina Fey said it on SNL) but they’ve become cultural shorthand that means something real. Same thing with “Hands up, don’t shoot.” If Kelly had bothered to interview an African American about the Ferguson report (and it’s telling that she didn’t), I’d bet that he or she would say that the phrase is about cops killing unarmed African Americans, not the specifics of the Michael Brown case.

But Kelly’s racial hostility is even more inexcusable given her own racial conduct in other cases. As I’ve previously written, Kelly previously conducted an orchestrated series of accusations – over at least 45 segments - that Holder had refused to prosecute some members of the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation because they’re black. Even though no voter intimidation had occurred.

Kelly abruptly dropped her attacks after she was confronted on the air about her dishonest race baiting.

___________________________


my goodness....  as we saw last night the regurgitation of the Fox talking point.