|Ex-Police Chief Jackson resigned March 11, 2015.|
The horror of Ferguson continues to unwind with the news that the majority of it's population was deliberately criminalized by the leadership of the town as a money making operation by the white leadership. In his blawg article, "Ferguson: Where Everyone's A Criminal", Scott Greenfield discussed the case far better than I'm capable of.
My own response to this news is more emotional and not one schooled in law. I'm angry that this happened. I'm angry that this kind of thing, this collusion to oppress African Americans happens, not just in Ferguson, but other parts of the country as well. Look at Greenfield's article and you see that the oppression in rooted in criminalizing every thing people do or fail to do. Imagine being criminalized for civic or "quality of life" infractions like not suppressing weeds or mowing the grass or keeping a picture perfect yard. Ticket, fine and jail. Rinse and repeat. Vehicles? Too loud a muffler? Driving while black in the white neighborhood? Going 24 or 26 in a 25 zone? Ticket, fine, and jail. Rinse and repeat. Social activities - walking with friends down the street, having a party, visiting with friends on the porch - any of them cause for a citation or two or three. Ticket, fine, jail. Rinse and repeat. On it goes.
The DOJ findings were that the white town fathers benefited from this. Look at their salaries and bonuses among other things. And the townspeople of Ferguson pay through the nose, deal with the build up of misdemeanor after misdemeanor on their records. Fines, jail, fines, jail. Rinse and repeat. The kicker is that these petty misdemeanors keep the population in place - they lose the opportunity to move into better paying work. They have a record. Employers don't want people with records working for them. And so the people of Ferguson not only get trapped in a cycle of poverty, they get trapped in all the things that show a breakdown of civic life as well. They're fined so heavily that affording the upkeep of their homes, yards and vehicles is priced out of existence for them! They don't get to have a quality of life like the white section of Ferguson gets to enjoy as a matter of course.
But I'm emotional, not a lawyer and here I get to ask "What the fuck?" What is going to be done to remove these misdemeanor convictions? What about the folks who got so many misdemeanors that became felonies because of too many misdemeanors? What is going to be done to restore these people's good name? What is going to be done to compensate them for the financial damages done to them by those avaricious racist bastards? What army of lawyers and judges are going to work to reverse and expunge the convictions of these hapless people?
What of people who use the people of Ferguson's "criminal records" to justify and rationalize the structural and systemic racism and to continue demonizing African Americans? My skin crawls at the very thought of these modern day slavers. And I call them that because they put the people of Ferguson into economic bondage against their wills.
Michael Brown's death uncovered a snake pit of corruption. By now many of the white officials involved have resigned their jobs. But it is not good enough that they've resigned. Not by half.