A sickening and utterly damning report released this week by the US Department of Justice starts to reveal the extent to which black residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have suffered racial discrimination and persecution at the hands of the city’s overwhelmingly white law enforcement authorities. Ferguson emerges as a place where the police neither knew the law, nor bothered to follow it. A place where black residents feared arrest just for walking outside.
Reminder: it was in Ferguson that Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot multiple times and killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer - a police officer a grand jury declined to indict. It was Ferguson the world watched as widespread protests and civil disorder sparked vigorous debates about the strained relationship between the police and black residents of Missouri. And it was just two miles from where Michael Brown was killed that Antonio Martin - another black teenager - was shot and killed just two months later by another white police officer.
The Department of Justice’s official report comes many months after Amnesty International filed a report last year about human rights abuses by the Ferguson police, including unjustified use of excessive and lethal force, racial discrimination, intimidation of peaceful protesters, suppression of free speech, and more. The full DoJ report is here; if you read nothing else, read the first six pages.
Rage Against the Machine’s angry anthem Killing in the Name - written in the early 90s about institutional racism and police brutality - has never seemed more appropriate. "Some of those that work forces // Are the same that burn crosses!"
A Ferguson officer told an African-American man: “N*****, I can find something to lock you up on,” then slammed his face into a wall