Eric Holder Slams Ferguson PD: Racism, Brutality Turned Community Into ‘Powder Keg’
Eric Holder said that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Officer Darren Wilson for the Michael Brown shooting, but Ferguson Police, in general, have committed many, many crimes against African Americans. The attorney general says the local officers violated the constitution on a regular basis, using the department as a collection agency to finance the city and silencing voices of dissent by force. Still, it doesn’t appear like anyone will be facing charges.
Earlier today, Eric Holder gave a press conference detailing the findings of the Justice Department’s 102-page comprehensive investigation of the Michael Brown shooting and the Ferguson Police Department.
Holder started by saying their investigation failed to produce enough evidence to charge Darren Wilson with civil rights charges. The attorney general explained the result will likely come as a surprise to many people who have watched the case from the beginning.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, residents in Ferguson, Missouri, were outraged by the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. They quickly took to the streets to protest what appeared to many to be an uncooperative police force.
Eric Holder gave a possible explanation for why so many were angry, despite the lack of evidence against officer Wilson, saying that Ferguson police regularly violated peoples’ constitutional rights, used citations to generate revenue, and made excessive force a regular practice.
“Of course, violence is never justified. But seen in this context – amid a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings, and spurred by illegal and misguided practices – it is not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg.”
Eric Holder claims that the city used the police department as its own piggy bank. The number of citations has increased by 50 percent since 2010 without a corresponding increase in crime.
Holder said, “the city relies on the police force to serve, essentially, as a collection agency for the municipal court rather than a law enforcement entity focused primarily on maintaining and promoting public safety.”
The attorney general went on to say three or four citations in a single stop would be fairly routine. Officers reported being pressured into generating more revenue from fines. In one instance, an officer cited a person for 14 different offenses in one traffic stop.
The city’s revenue has increased from $1.3 million to $3 million since 2010.
Eric Holder says the report also shows a structural racial bias, both implicit and explicit. Internal emails showcase some of the racist remarks from officers.
The Daily Beast put together a short list of a few of most racist emails.
One described a man who was trying to get welfare for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and ahve [sic] no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”
Eric Holder also cited some of the report’s statistics that show 90 percent of all cases where officers used force — including the excessive use of tasers — were against African Americans. Likewise, the use of police dogs were almost exclusively used on African Americans.
Holder explained the racial bias affected general policing, including a disproportionate amount of African Americans being pulled over by police.
Eric Holder’s press conference and the DoJ report will likely be damning for the Ferguson police for years to come.
Nevertheless, Ferguson isn’t the only community with widespread police abuses. Reporters at the Guardian recently uncovered a police “black site” in Chicago where officers would employ brutal interrogation tactics on detainees who were not yet officially arrested.
So, what will Eric Holder and Department of Justice do about the widespread police abuses in Ferguson, and perhaps throughout the country?
Judging from the press conference, not much.
Holder made a number of recommendations, declining to announce any new investigations or indictments. Nevertheless, he did give this warning.
“Let me be clear: the United States Department of Justice reserves all its rights and abilities to force compliance and implement basic change.”
That may not be enough after a press conference and report that will surely enrage Americans.
The report from the Department of Justice can be found on the Washington Post website here.
The full transcript of Eric Holder’s press conference can be found on Fox 2 Now here.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]