Wednesday, March 4, 2015

And Who is Surprised? The Department of Justice Details How the Ferguson Police Department is a Racist Cesspool

White supremacy is a global social, political, economic, philosophical, and psychological system (and disposition) that is dedicated to redistributing resources to, and protecting the dominant power position of, White people as a group.

White supremacy works in many ways. One of its primary methods of operation is to assault the mental well-being, sanity, and health of non-whites.

To that end, white supremacy calls into doubt the lived experiences of black and brown people, devalues their truth claims, and distorts empirical reality.

The White Gaze and white racist paranoiac thinking also allows white folks to twist the photographic and visual record to suit their own unreasonable conclusions. For example, Rodney King was somehow a threat to the officers that were savagely beating him or Eric Garner and Tamir Rice somehow provoked their own killings by police as the former pleaded for his life with "I can't breathe" and the latter played in a park.

Likewise, the Ferguson police ran amok and rioted against the black community of Ferguson, but to the eyes of too many white Americans--especially on the Right--those thug cops were either "provoked" or "acting with restraint".

Collectively, white racial logic exacts a high toll on the health of people of color.

As black folks have long joked, the lived experiences and facts known to be true by black and brown folk, are never truly ever taken to be true and real unless a white person validates them. Shorter version: it ain't true unless a white person says it is.

The Department of Justice's report on the Ferguson police department's racism is one such example of said folk wisdom in practice.

The African-American community in Ferguson, Missouri repeatedly and consistently recounted how the police in that area abused, harassed, and mistreated them. Black and brown folks across the country seconded those experiences with their own accounts of racial profiling, abuse, and harassment by the United States' police departments. These life experiences are buttressed by mountains of empirical data detailing how the American justice system is profoundly and consistently racist in how it treats black and brown people.

Racism is a fact. It is not an opinion.

On the Department of Justice report about the Ferguson police department as reported by the Daily Mail:
The U.S. Justice Department has concluded that the Ferguson, Missouri, police department routinely engages in racially biased practices, a law enforcement official familiar with the department's findings said on Tuesday. 
The investigation into the police department began in August after the shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson sparked national protests.
Analysis of more than 35,000 pages of police records found racist comments from officers as well as statistics that showed African-Americans make up 93 percent of arrests while accounting for only 67 percent of the population in Ferguson, the official said. 
It describes a city where the police used force almost exclusively on blacks and regularly stopped people without probable cause. Racial bias is so ingrained, the report said, that Ferguson officials circulated racist jokes on their government email accounts. 

In a November 2008 email, a city official said Barack Obama would not be president long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years?” Another email included a cartoon depicting African-Americans as monkeys. A third described black women having abortions as a way to curb crime.
“There are serious problems here that cannot be explained away,” said a law enforcement official who has seen the report and spoke on the condition of anonymity because it had not been released yet.
The evidence they found demonstrating the Ferguson PD’s “intentional discrimination on the basis of race” included arrest statistics and a lot of racist emails. There were so many of these emails that the DOJ could only choose a few to demonstrate what kind of messages the Ferguson PD sent each other in their spare time: 
A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” 
A March 2010 email mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the email read: “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!” 
An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. 
A May 2011 email stated: “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 described 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.” 
An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.” 
A December 2011 email included jokes that are based on offensive stereotypes about Muslims. 
And these weren’t the only emails they found. “Our review of documents revealed many additional email communications that exhibited racial or ethnic bias, as well as other forms of bias,” they wrote, adding that no one at the Ferguson PD was ever disciplined, or even called out, for their behavior: 
Our investigation has not revealed any indication that any officer or court clerk engaged in these communications was ever disciplined. Nor did we see a single instance in which a police or court recipient of such an email asked that the sender refrain from sending such emails, or any indication that these emails were reported as inappropriate. Instead, the emails were usually forwarded along to others.
And as I pointed out--without hyperbole or exaggeration during one of my appearances on Ring of Fire TV--the Ferguson police killed Michael Brown for the Jim Crow era crime of "bumptious walking".

This policy is also detailed by the Department of Justice report:
Ferguson's black residents are also more likely than others to be charged with relatively minor offenses like 'manner of walking in roadway' or 'failure to comply.
White racists in the colorblind era use several rhetorical strategies to deny and deflect the truth-claims of African-Americans and other people of color. 

One of the standard colorblind white racist deflections in the post civil rights era is language such as "minorities are too sensitive", "we need to wait for all the facts to come out", "blacks overreact to minor things", "we need to hear the other side of the story", and "both sides do it!"

The Department of Justice has presented the facts about Ferguson's police department.

As exhaustively detailed by the Department of Justice, the Ferguson police department (and broader law enforcement apparatus) is and was profoundly racist, engaged in a debt peonage collection racket against the black community, and routinely violated the civil rights of black people as a matter of protocol.

Although I know the answer, I must still ask the question: where are the defenders of the Ferguson police department now? How will white racism deniers and others ignore, twist, obfuscate, and reframe the obvious findings about the institutional white supremacy that brutalizes the black people of Ferguson and other communities?

The Department of Justice report on Ferguson's police department highlights the institutional white supremacist cultural practices that enabled and encouraged the white thug cop Darren Wilson to kill the black teenager Mr. Michael Brown.

Alas, but even in the Department of Justice report we are left with a paradox--one not uncommon along the colorline. It is upsetting and frustrating: the Department of Justice can conclude that the Ferguson police are profoundly racist, yet somehow Darren Wilson did not violate the civil rights of Michael Brown.

Here, the "colorblind", neoliberal, corporate, "multicultural", Racial State maintains a veneer of legitimacy by being adaptive and making minor (and obvious) concessions to the justice claims of people of color, but ultimately it does not equally value the personhood, safety, and security of non- whites.

This is a con game and hustle that typifies race in the post civil rights era United States.

The Department of Justice report on Ferguson is a minor validation of what black and brown folks (and informed, honest, forward thinking white folks who have begun to think past their personal investment in Whiteness) have long known. We who are black and brown must always remind ourselves that it is not us who are crazy, irrational, deranged, or detached from empirical reality.

No, it is White America that is sick and insane with racism.

They need to heal themselves; we need to keep ourselves safe, happy, and psychologically healthy.


Anne O'Nimmus said...

On top of the blatantly racist money-grubbing policing of Ferguson, there's a real doozy: FBI seriously undercounting homicide by cop to the tune of 545 per year!

Apparently Bureau of Justice Statistics. No ethnic breakdown in the article, really shocking numbers - they come to nearly 3 deaths by cop every day for years!

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

I'm shocked, shocked. Racism? Missouri? Ferguson? Yes, I'll take my winnings.

James Scaminaci III said...

Chauncey, the money quote is that Officer Wilson could have been a participating and thriving member of a racist police force, but held no views that would hold him accountable for violating Michael Brown's constitutional right to life. I cannot understand how the DoJ could have endorsed Wilson's grand jury testimony that Brown "charged" Wilson from over 100 feet away. As you noted in an article, Wilson characterized Brown as a "giant Negro," who "bulked up" and charged Wilson. That scenario is preposterous on its face. Holder's DoJ basically said, "we feel your pain," but we are not going to do anything except release this report. Ok, maybe there will some reforms of the FPD, but it leaves a huge injustice unchallenged.

chauncey devega said...

Bizarre conclusion isn't it? As say, folks should have no faith in a racist and corrupt system.

skilletblonde said...

Not only do I think the majority of Americans live under a mass delusion of what America is, so does its leaders. It's like the politicians who reminisce about the 1950's. They tout it as an golden era, when in reality it was no such thing. That belief is largely the result of 1950's sitcoms. In the 1950's America wasn't two generations out of being a Third World Nation. The same kind of mythology surrounds American justice.

We have been so inundated with movies and television that glorify law enforcement and American justice- that we overlook the monumental history of real injustice. Americans have heard Action Comic's "Truth Justice And The American Way" so many times, it has to be true. When it is announced that a case is being turned over to Justice Department, there is a tendency to think...justice will be served. But that depends on your knowledge and perception of American justice

If you are African American and certainly Native American the fact that the FBI, CIA, or any government law enforcement agency is here to serve you, may cause you to fall on the floor and laugh hysterically. The wickedness of the FBI's COINTELPRO; the spying on black churches, civil rights activists, and anti-war activists should be a reminder. This espionage on African Americans was so thorough that it included such technology as military intelligence and U2 Spy Planes. As I've posted here before, an article written in the Washington Post on March 21, 1993, indicated on the day King was killed in Memphis, 8 under covered Green Berets were present. The article stated that the military had been spying on African Americans for 75 years. The spying on Martin Luther King went back as far as King's maternal grandmother.

So, all of that about the rule of law and being a nation of laws is about 75% bull-shyte. After Rutherford B. Hayes ended Reconstruction by removing the federal troops from the South, every U.S. president from that point on -violated his oath of office by not enforcing the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment. They broke the law Folks! It took the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to make people sworn to uphold the law- uphold the law. The 14th amendment in particular has done nothing to help the Trayvon Martins or the Michael Browns. As a matter of fact, what it was intended to do for African Americans, equal protection, it has not accomplished. But it has provided those protections for corporations. Corporate power has benefited from the 14th amendment- more than African Americans. I'm sure the Trumps, Kochs and Rockefellers are grateful. They've been so oppressed.

I gather I'm pessimistic. I'm also depressed. But I'm so tired of this same scene over and over again. If you're an African American, whether you're 9 or 90, these dramas of our people being shot down will be an ongoing reality until you die. This is a a reality we should end.

Justin M. White said...

Thanks for linking to Michelle Alexander's appearance on Democracy Now. I didn't know about it at all.

kokanee said...

Feel free to report back to the class. ;)

INDYOO7 said...

Chauncey you are on point as always. Thank you.

Dan Kasteray said...

At least its out in the open now. These shitbags wouldn't fight transparency so hard if it wasn't harmful to them and their kkkulture.

Learning Is Eternal said...

This comment right here is an over hand left by Smoking Joe Frazier vs. Ali.

Lkeke said...

Last year,was quite possibly, one of the most emotionally exhausting years of my life and I'm aWoC, so that's saying something.

I expect this year to be just as bad and hold no hope that these systems or White people will create any significant changes to any of this, in my lifetime. I've never held a rosy view of humanity but I hold no hope for change in the willfull stupidity of the people of this country. I used to have optimism about that sort of thing but that's been long gone.

White people cannot go on living in this delusional state, forever can they?

chauncey devega said...

That is some powerful sharing. If you are so inclined, do share. What has been going on? Nothing but love from your people here at WARN.

chauncey devega said...

You have nothing to be sorry for. We move forward together as human beings. Others may choose to not be full human beings. So be it.

joe manning said...

Nina Moore, "The Political Roots of Racial Tracking In American Criminal Justice" Colgate professor Nina Moore's scholarly book is a useful footnote to Michelle Alexander's "New Jim Crow."

Lkeke said...

That sad thing is that my personal life is fine. It's the state of race relations in this country that has significantly depressed me. It's one thing to "know" people are racist, it's another thing entirely to read after every shooting of an unarmed black man or child, just how incredibly gleeful and dismissive, some people are about it.

I knew this on an intellectual level. I knew it! I knew human beings had a bad side and that they could be evil, but I held out hope that humans could be better. But I've never had what little faith I did have in the future of this species just blasted as often as I did last year. I'm only now just starting to realize just how horrifyingly deep this apathy for human life goes.

It's difficult because I've strived to live my life with compassion for even the worst of humanity. They are still people. Apparently, it's difficult for me to understand how any human being can hold the opposite viewpoint.

I shed more tears last year over the deaths of people I've never met than I did for myself, last year. That my life is pleasant and undramatic, makes what's happening to the others of my race that much more horrific. But it's not the killings that have upset me so much as the sheer magnitude of the hatred and apathy some White people have shown for the lives of Black and Brown people.

Especially after the realization, after so many public mass shootings, That even the lives of their own children don't matter to them, so why would they care about ours.

I'm a firm believer in self-care but I cannot safely ignore what's going on either. It's one of the reasons I frequent this site. I'm fighting valiantly to hold on to the ideas about humanity I've always held and ...Bless you, Chauncey-you and all your guests here... for helping me with that fight.

There are almost no safe places online that don't quickly become inundated with the gleefully ignorant twaddle, that some people love to espouse, in the wake of every Black murder. This is one of the few places, I can talk about how I feel, without becoming a screaming, rage-monster, too.

Thank you for that.