DOJ report finds systematic discrimination in Ferguson

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |   March 3, 2015 at 6:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- Police officers and judicial workers in Ferguson, Mo., were routinely involved in discrimination against African-Americans, a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice found.

A federal law enforcement official involved with the investigation discussed the investigation with multiple news agencies. The full report is expected to be released Wednesday.

The investigation launched by Attorney General Eric Holder found police officers in the predominantly white department made racist jokes about black people -- including U.S. President Barack Obama -- using their work email accounts.

In one joke, an officer said Obama wasn't likely to be president for long because "what black man holds a steady job for four years." Another joked a black woman in New Orleans received a refund for an abortion from her local Crimestoppers organization.

Officers also disproportionately targeted black people for traffic stops, use of force and jail sentences, the report found. African-Americans make up about 67 percent of the city's population but account for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of citations, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of cases in which use of force was used.

Black drivers were also twice as likely as white drivers to be searched but less likely found to be in possession of drugs or guns.

In Ferguson's municipal court system, black people were 68 percent less likely to have their cases dismissed by a judge than other defendants.

Holder launched the investigation into Ferguson's law enforcement offices in response to the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August. A grand jury declined to press charges against the white police officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson.

The lack of an indictment -- along with a lack of charges against an officer who put New York man Eric Garner in a choke hold resulting in his death -- sparked nationwide protests against police aggression and discrimination.

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