The Department of Justice’s investigation into alleged racial discrimination by police in Ferguson, Missouri includes some shocking anecdotes.
“Michael’s” story may be one of the saddest.
Sitting in his car after playing basketball in a public park, Michael, 32 and black, suddenly found himself blocked in by a Ferguson police officer’s vehicle.
The cop demanded Michael’s identification and social security information (which routine stops don’t require), according to the Justice Department report. Then, the officer accused Michael of being a pedophile — simply for being in a park with children, the DOJ found.
Although the officer had no reason to believe Michael was armed, he administered a pat-down and searched his car. When Michael objected, the officer arrested him at gunpoint, according to the Justice Department report. He charged Michael with eight violations, including “making a false declaration.” Michael told the officer his name was “Mike” and provided a different address from the one on his licence.
The officer also charged Michael with not wearing a seatbelt, even though he was sitting in a parked car. He was also charged with two more contradictory offenses: one for having an expired licence and another for having no licence at all.
As a result of the charges against him, Michael lost a years-long position as a contractor with the federal government, he told the DOJ.
Unfortunately, Michael’s experience isn’t an anomaly.
The DOJ’s six-month long investigation found evidence of racial bias in arrests and excessive use of force throughout the Ferguson police department, which uses its discriminatory practices to generate revenue.
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