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Cops in Ferguson Are Extremely Racist, According to the Feds

Racist emails and other evidence leaking out from a federal probe into the city's police department paints a picture of systematic discrimination.

by Allie Conti
Mar 3 2015, 11:00pm

A protest in Ferguson inspired by the killing of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. Photo by Alice Speri/VICE News

Although the report doesn't officially come out until Wednesday, multiple news outlets have obtained leaks from the long-awaited federal probe into the Ferguson Police Department launched after the killing of unarmed black teen Michael Brown.

The gist? The man who shot Brown, Officer Darren Wilson, will almost certainly not face civil rights charges, but his employer sure as hell will.

When Wilson killed Brown last August, it set off a wave of protests from coast to coast and started a national debate on racism—both of which were revived when a grand jury declined to indict the officer the following November. Missourians reacted both by peacefully marching down city streets and, occasionally, looting local stores. The outburst of emotion certainly seemed to be the culmination of systematic ill treatment of the city's overwhelmingly black residents by its mostly white police force.

And that's exactly the report will confirm, according to the New York Times. Although Ferguson is 67 percent black, that population makes up 85 percent of traffic stops, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of use-of-force cases. The Department of Justice collated these stats from two years' worth of arrest reports and supplemented the investigation with hundreds of interviews, reviewing some 35,000 documents along the way, according to the Washington Post.

Among the findings were two racist emails between police and court employees. According to a source interviewed by NPR, one questioned President Barack Obama's staying power around the time of his election in 2008, asking, "What black man holds a steady job for four years?"

Another email joked about a black woman having an abortion and later receiving a check from "Crimestoppers."

As of now, it's unclear who, exactly, sent and received the emails.

Along with old-school racial animus, the DOJ report suggests that the desire to generate revenue played a key role in the discriminatory practices. To make up for filling city coffers with petty arrests, Ferguson will now likely be forced to pay some kind of settlement.

The Ferguson report will be the second major DOJ probe involving the death of a young black man to come out this year. On February 24, the Department of Justice declined to bring civil rights violations against George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watchman who shot Trayvon Martin in 2012. Because he was not an employee of any official law enforcement agency, a probe into the Sanford Police Department was apparently deemed unnecessary.

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