On this dayMar 04, 2015

Federal Report: Pervasive Racial Bias in Ferguson Police Department

Image | Whitney Curtis, New York Times

On March 4, 2015, the Federal Department of Justice released a comprehensive investigative report looking into police behaviors and practices within the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department. In August 2014, Ferguson was the site of the fatal shooting of a young Black man named Michael Brown, killed by a white police officer named Darren Wilson. Brown's death garnered national attention, public protest, and scrutiny into the racial disparities in the administration of justice in Ferguson. The DOJ investigation was launched in response to those events.

The investigation's resulting report documented rampant and pervasive racial bias within the Ferguson Police Department. Federal officials concluded that the department had a patterned practice of discriminatory policing in which African Americans made up 90 percent of arrests despite only constituting 67 percent of the town’s population. In addition, community residents had filed more than 150 excessive force complaints over the course of four years, and no disciplinary action had been taken on any of them.

These findings shed light on the environment in which, just days after his high school graduation, Michael Brown was harassed and ultimately killed by Darren Wilson, an officer who was never prosecuted for the shooting.

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