DOJ: Racism, Extortion, Lawlessness Pervasive in Ferguson

The U.S. Justice Department issued a devastating report this week, calling for officials in Ferguson, Missouri to “overhaul” the criminal justice system or face a federal lawsuit.

Offenses include using “police and courts as money making ventures,” racial bias in policing, and exchanges of racist emails, according to the New York Times. The report found that 85 percent of traffic stops and 93 percent of arrests over a two year period targeted the city’s black population. “A black motorist in Ferguson was twice as likely to be searched.. even though searches of whites turned up drugs and other contraband more often,” the article explains.

Attorney General Eric Holder highlighted the pervasive problems in his address Wednesday. “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,” Holder said.

Mayer James Knowles did not address the steps advised in the report, but acknowledged the work needed. “We must do better not only as a city, but as a state and as a country,” he said in a statement to the press. “We must all work to address issues of racial disparity in all aspects of society.”