A Ferguson police department employee has been fired and two others placed on leave after racist emails were discovered during a federal investigation into the department’s practices.
The disciplinary actions were announced Wednesday by Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, the first time city leaders have officially responded to the federal report that found widespread racial bias in the police department. The investigation was sparked by the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown last summer, and the ensuing allegations of police brutality against protesters.
The report claimed that the Ferguson police department showed little interest in serving the black community, but rather focused on collecting revenue in the form of fines and fees.
The department also had a culture of bias against the black community, the report noted.
“This culture within FPD influences activities in all areas of policing, beyond just ticketing. Officers expect and demand compliance even when they lack legal authority. They are inclined to interpret the exercise of free speech rights as unlawful disobedience, innocent movements as physical threats, indications of mental and physical illness as belligerence. Police supervisors and leadership do too little to ensure that officers act in accordance of with law and policy, and rarely respond meaningfully to civilian complaints of officer misconduct. The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probably cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment; infringement on free expression, as well as retaliation for protected expression, in violation of the First Amendment; and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
The Justice Department report also cleared officer Darren Wilson, who fired the shot that killed Michael Brown.
The investigation also found a series of racist emails, including one in November, 2008, that said President Obama would not be in office long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years?”
Some others included (via NBC News).
- A March, 2010, email mocking African-Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment!” one read. “Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!”
- An April, 2011, email depicting Obama as a chimpanzee.
- A May, 2011, email stating: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.'”
- A June, 2011, email describing a man seeking to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”
Reports did not name the Ferguson police department officer fired for the racist emails.