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The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the conclusion of their ongoing investigation of the Ferguson Police Department in Missouri. After launching an investigation into the practices of the police there last summer, the DOJ has discovered that Ferguson police operated by using racially biased practices for years.

The findings in Ferguson regarding racist police practices extended to the entire state, as the Justice Department notes in a report that should publish on Wednesday (Mar. 4). The investigation was launched last August after the fatal shooting death of unarmed Black teenager Michael “Mike” Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson. DOJ officials unveiled that Ferguson police continually violated the Fourth Amendment constitutional rights of Black people in the state.

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From 2012 to 2014, the report found, African-Americans comprised 85 percent of people pulled over for a traffic stop; 90 percent of those given citations; and 93 percent of arrests.

Also, African-American drivers were more than twice as likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white drivers, but that those black drivers were 26 percent less likely to be found to be holding contraband.

The report also accuses the Ferguson police of using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and that 88 percent of those cases involved African-Americans.

Early last month, a group of civil rights lawyers launched a lawsuit against Ferguson over the jailing of people who failed to pay traffic ticket fines and other small offenses. Several small municipalities across Ferguson and surround areas have their own police force and traffic courts, routinely stopping the mostly Black citizens who travel through the region.

Missouri lawmakers are said to be working on a bill to ease the impact to the poor who cannot afford to pay for their fines. Activists and citizens alike see the speed traps in these municipalities and village towns as nothing more than a revenue generating scheme.

Photo: Jamelle Bouie/CC By 2.0

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