Probe of Ferguson-Missouri finds bias from cops, courts

Go Lean Commentary

“What you’re looking for, you gonna get!” – Bahamian idiom.

Yet, the thoughts conveyed by this expression are universal. Even the Bible says: “If errors was what you watch, who could stand” – Psalm 130:3 (New World Translation)

The subsequent news article is insidious. The law enforcement officials in the City of Ferguson, Missouri seem to have targeted the African-American community, more so than any other ethnic group; this classic racial profiling has only one outcome: chaos. This was their (negative) community ethos. What’s worst? They got away with it; because the justice institutions, the courts, clerks and the like, backed up these immoral police activities.

CU Blog - Probe of Ferguson-Missouri finds bias from cops, courts - Photo 1Too harsh a criticism?

Yet, the injustice was so blatant that the town burst into protest – (literally burst into flames) – when one of their citizens – an unarmed, surrendering Michael Brown – was killed by a police officer. Then the whole country burst into protest when the subsequent Grand Jury decided not to indict in that situation. The protesters decried: “No Justice; No Peace”.

(In a related story, today the US authorities decided not to pursue a federal case against the police officer in the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson).

It is one thing to study this from afar; it is another to live it every day. This was the constant complaint of residents of Ferguson, especially those of the Black-and-Brown persuasion. See news article here and VIDEOs below:

By: Eric Tucker, AP
WASHINGTON — A Justice Department investigation found sweeping patterns of racial bias within the Ferguson, Mo., police department, with officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials familiar with its findings.

The report, to be released as soon as today, marks the culmination of a months-long investigation into a police department that federal officials have described as troubled and that commanded national attention after one of its officers shot and killed an unarmed black man, 18-year-old Michael Brown, last summer.

It chronicles discriminatory practices across the city’s criminal justice system, detailing problems from initial encounters with patrol officers to treatment in the municipal court and jail. Federal law enforcement officials described its contents on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly before the report is released.

The full report could serve as a road map for significant changes by the department, if city officials accept its findings. Past federal investigations of local police departments have encouraged overhauls of fundamental police procedures such as traffic stops and the use of service weapons. The Justice Department maintains the right to sue police departments that resist making changes.

The City of Ferguson released a statement acknowledging that Justice Department officials supplied a copy of the report to the mayor, city manager, police chief and city attorney during a private meeting Tuesday in downtown St. Louis. The statement offered no details about the report, which the city said it was reviewing and would discuss today after the Justice Department makes it public.

The investigation, which began weeks after Brown’s killing last August, is being released as Attorney General Eric Holder prepares to leave his job following a six-year tenure that focused largely on civil rights. The findings are based on interviews with police leaders and residents, a review of more than 35,000 pages of police records and analysis of data on stops, searches and arrests.

Federal officials found that black motorists from 2012 to 2014 were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched during traffic stops, even though they were 26 percent less likely to be found carrying contraband, according to a summary of the findings.

The review also found that blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge. And from April to September of last year, 95 percent of people kept at the city jail for more than two days were black, it found.

Of the cases in which the police department documented the use of force, 88 percent involved blacks, and of the 14 dog bites for which racial information is available, all 14 victims were black.

Overall, African-Americans make up 67 percent of the population of Ferguson, about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis. The police department has been criticized as racially imbalanced and not reflective of the community’s demographic makeup. At the time of the shooting, just three of 53 officers were black, though the mayor has said he’s trying to create a more diverse police force.

Brown’s killing set off weeks of protests and initiated a national dialogue about police officers’ use of force and their relations with minority communities. A separate report to be issued soon is expected to clear Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, of federal civil rights charges. A state grand jury declined to indict Wilson in November, and he resigned from the department.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Brown family, said that if the reports about the findings are true, they “confirm what Michael Brown’s family has believed all along — and that is that the tragic killing of an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager was part of a systemic pattern of inappropriate policing of African-American citizens in the Ferguson community.”

The report says there is direct evidence of racial bias among police officers and court workers, and details a criminal justice system that issues citations for petty infractions such as walking in the middle of the street, putting the raising of revenue from fines ahead of public safety. The physical tussle that led to Brown’s death began after Wilson told him and a friend to move from the street to the sidewalk.

The practice hits poor people especially hard, sometimes leading to jail time when they can’t pay, the report says, and has contributed to a cynicism about the police on the part of citizens.

Among the report’s findings was a racially tinged 2008 message in a municipal email account stating that President Obama would not be president for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

The department has conducted roughly 20 broad civil rights investigations of police departments during Holder’s tenure, including Newark, Cleveland and Albuquerque. Most such investigations end with police departments agreeing to change their practices.

Justice Department officials were meeting with Ferguson leaders on Tuesday about the findings, a city official said.

Several messages seeking comment from Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson and Mayor James Knowles III were not returned. A secretary for Jackson said he is not doing media interviews. Knowles has previously said the city is attracting a large pool of applicants to police jobs, including minority candidates seeking the position left vacant by Wilson’s resignation.

John Gaskin III, a St. Louis community activist, praised the findings, saying, “Ferguson police have to see the light in how they deal with people of color.

“It’s quite evident that change is coming down the pike. This is encouraging,” he said. “It’s so unfortunate that Michael Brown had to be killed. But in spite of that, I feel justice is coming.”
Associate Press – News Wire Service – Posted March 4, 2015

The events of this small Midwest American town, a suburb of St. Louis – see Appendix-Demographics below – have a huge bearing on the efforts to elevate Caribbean society. There is a direct impact: many in the Caribbean Diaspora living in the US face the same dynamics, daily. Yet, our Caribbean citizens – mostly Black-and-Brown – beat down the doors to try and expatriate to the US; then they have to contend with these same attitudes and prejudices. There are also indirect lessons for the Caribbean to learn and apply: our region struggles with a lot of the same challenges, especially with discriminations and prejudices towards immigrant “minority” groups.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean identifies these issues as among “push-and-pull” factors contributing to our excessive societal abandonment rate. While the purpose of the book is to serve as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to elevate the region’s economic engines, the security (public safety) issues are not ignored. Even more so, governance in the Caribbean member-states is a prime focus. In fact, the Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The assertion of the Go Lean book is that the Caribbean region must prepare its own security apparatus for its own security needs; we must proactively and reactively address crime. But we must do it judiciously and with proper regard for human and civil rights. For this reason, we should dread any American leadership in this regards. Considering Ferguson, they (America) have their own issues to contend with. According to the book’s opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12), we must take our own lead for our own solutions; we must appoint our own “guardians” with our self-interest in mind; prioritizing the community ethos for the Greater Good. The actual declaration statements are pronounced as follows:

x.   Whereas we are surrounded and allied to nations of larger proportions in land mass, populations, and treasuries, elements in their societies may have ill-intent in their pursuits, at the expense of the safety and security of our citizens. We must therefore appoint “new guards” to ensure our public safety and threats against our society, both domestic and foreign. The Federation must employ the latest advances and best practices … to assuage continuous threats against public safety.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes, including piracy and other forms of terrorism, can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

The Caribbean appointing “new guards” or a security pact to ensure public safety calls for permanent justice institutions sanctioned by all 30 CU member-states. The CU Federation or federal justice’s institutions must operate differently than the US Department of Justice. While the separation-of-powers edict is the same – between the US and the CU – the Go Lean roadmap calls for more “strings attached” to security funding for community policing in the member-states. These strings include fair and equitable treatment of all citizens.

CU Blog - Probe of Ferguson-Missouri finds bias from cops, courts - Photo 2There are so many economic considerations from these issues. Consider the experience in Ferguson. The economic data reports that for White Americans there, the unemployment rate was just 6.2%; but the best figures available for the Black community shows 26% (for the entire St. Louis County in 2012). Overall, this Fortune magazine article reports: “while the Ferguson and St. Louis regional economies have been on the upswing, the gains have not been equally shared among White and African Americans. The St. Louis County 20 percentage point gap between the unemployment rate of African Americans and White Americans is the largest of any city in America, according to the Census. So, the fact that protests against the treatment of Black Americans have erupted there is not a coincidence”. [And maybe not a surprise].

The primary economic engine in Ferguson, Missouri is the company Emerson Electric. How have they fared in the midst of all this social turmoil?

As the conflict in Ferguson, Missouri intensified, this one Fortune 500 company (ranked 121) headquartered there stayed out of harm’s way. Despite the ongoing protests, the curfew implemented by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, and the arrival of the Missouri National Guard to quell acts of violence, the company said “it was business as usual”.

This is a powerful lesson for Caribbean consideration, the need for continuity in economic engines. About 1,300 Emerson employees work at the Ferguson headquarters; there is the perception of a “disconnect” between its status as a Fortune 500 corporation and the city’s dysfunctional urban realities. The company has established a Charitable Trust for its outreach into the local community, funding campaigns through local ($2.5 million) and national ($33 million) philanthropic endeavors. The local NAACP chapter has lauded Emerson’s contributions and involvement.

This type of success in Caribbean communities will require a heightened level of economic-security-government engagement. This is the prime directive of the CU. The Homeland Security requirements are mostly related to threats that may imperil the region’s economic engines, and crime remediation and mitigation: Public Safety! While there is some community responsibility for corporate stakeholders, the full burden – heavy-lifting – is not the obligation of local corporations, like Emerson in Ferguson. The Go Lean roadmap invites philanthropic participation but assumes the heavy-lifting itself to transform Caribbean society. The CU is an expression of that transformation, an entity to serve as a deputy for law enforcement agencies for each Caribbean member-state. (This is the theme of the treaty to empower the CU). The treaty – a Status of Forces Agreement in International Legal circles – calls for all Caribbean member-states to confederate – unite and empower – a security force to execute a limited scope on their sovereign territories. (This effort also includes the US Territories as well, under the legal guise of an Interstate Compact).

The Go Lean roadmap calls for a lot of proactive activities to remediate and mitigate crime. Like the data analyses, performed by the US Department of Justice in the foregoing article, trends of racial profiling and violations of civil rights become obvious from a macro computation of arrest and prosecution records. It is very important to have the intra-regional review of Caribbean justice institutions. This point was strongly urged in the same opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12), as follows:

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

The Go Lean roadmap identifies gang and organized crime-related activities – including drug trafficking accompanied by epidemic levels of gun violence – as threats to the law-and-order fabric of Caribbean society. (Between 2005 and 2008, the Caribbean Community registered 9,733 homicides, the highest rates in the world). Had Ferguson been in some Caribbean member-state during this new Caribbean regime, the CU would be active and involved. If not for the marshaling against economic crimes, then at least the oversight of the existing Justice institutions in the member-states. It is therefore apropos that we apply careful review of these troubling events from our northern neighbors (US in general and Missouri in particular); and also to be on guard against any such dysfunctions in our region. But the community ethos for the Caribbean must be based on the Greater Good. This covers both the letter and the spirit of laws to serve-and-protect the community.

The Go Lean book details additional community ethos to ensure the right attitudes to serve-and-protect Caribbean communities; plus strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to provide increased public safety & security in the Caribbean region:

Economic Principle – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Economic Principle – Consequences of Choices Lie in Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Privacy –vs- Public Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Witness Security & Protection Page 23
Community Ethos – Intelligence Gathering Page 23
Community Ethos – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation Page 23
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Tactical – Confederating a non-sovereign union Page 63
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Homeland Security Page 75
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Justice Department – CariPol Page 77
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Federal Courts – Court of Justice Page 90
Implementation – Assemble “Organs” into a Security Apparatus Page 96
Implementation – Start-up Security Initiatives Page 103
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – # 10: Haiti and Cuba Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices Page 134
Planning – Lessons from the American West Page 142
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice – No Justice; No Peace Page 177
Advocacy – Ways to Reduce Crime Page 178
Advocacy – Ways to Improve for Gun Control Page 179
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Homeland Security Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Mitigate Terrorism Page 181
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Intelligence Gathering/Analysis Page 182
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Prison Industrial Complex Page 211
Advocacy – Ways to Protect Human Rights Page 220
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the One Percent – Philanthropic Causes Page 224
Appendix – CariCom Organs: IMPACS & Court of Justice Page 244
Appendix – Interstate Compacts Page 278
Appendix – Philanthropic Giving Pledge Signatories Page 292

Other subjects related to crime remediation and empowerments for the region have been blogged in other Go Lean commentaries, as sampled here: Dreading the American ‘Caribbean Basin Security Initiative’ 911 – Emergency Response: System for First Responders in Crisis Intelligence Agencies to Up Cyber Security Cooperation Migrant flow / Border incursions / Threats from Caribbean into US spikes Red Light Traffic Cameras, other CCTV Deployments can Impact Crime Role Model for Justice, Anti-Crime & Security: The Pinkertons Obama’s $3.7 Billion Immigration Crisis Funds – A Homeland Security Fix Status of Forces Agreement = Security Pact Here come the Drones … and the Concerns NSA records all phone calls in Bahamas, according to Snowden Remembering and learning from Boston Jamaica to receive World Bank funds to help in crime fight American Hypocritical Human Rights Leadership Slams the Caribbean

An underlying goal of the Go Lean movement is to make the Caribbean homeland, a better place to live, work and play so that our citizens are not lured to abandon their homeland for American (or Canadian or European) shores. There are many reasons people emigrate! Many times, the reasons are economic in nature. Sometimes though, security failings spur expatriation. We must address both issues with the efforts of this Go Lean movement.

America should not be considered the land of destination for the Caribbean population. Income inequality and racial inequality persists, though they don’t always go hand in hand. The fact that members of different races in America continue to receive different, unequal economic and security treatments has contributed to the rise in inequality overall in the US. We can do better in the Caribbean homeland. The issue of being Black-and-Brown is neutralized by the fact that the majority of the population is Black-and-Brown.

However, we still have minority issues to contend with.

There is a consistent problem for much of the Caribbean in contending with its illegal immigration problems, particularly from near-failed states like Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica. Their nationals tend to be unwelcomed and scorned upon in host countries; (see the experience of Haitian living in the Bahamas). In these scenarios are the best opportunities to apply the lessons learned from Ferguson and other case studies in dysfunction; (the Go Lean book details lessons from Detroit, East Germany, Egypt and Indian Reservations). We must ensure that our security personnel are just in their dealings with a minority-immigrant population. Otherwise, this undermines all the positives being pursued by this roadmap; onlookers and bystanders will simply label us as hypocrites.

“See how the world, marks the manner of your bearing” – verse from the Bahamas National Anthem.

Under this dreaded scenario, many people make plans to abandon their homelands further because of their perception of unchecked injustice.

We must do better!

We know that “bad actors” will emerge in all situations: good, bad and ugly. We must be prepared and on guard. Yet we must maintain transparency, accountability, and constant commitment to due-process and the rule-of-law. Everyone, the people, institutions and government officials are encouraged to lean-in to this roadmap; to Go Lean.


Download Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – Demographics:

CU Blog - Probe of Ferguson-Missouri finds bias from cops, courts - Photo 3The racial composition of Ferguson has shifted over the decades. In 1970, 99% of the population of Ferguson was White and 1% African American. In 1980, the proportion of White residents went down to 85%, whereas the proportion of African American rose to 14%. In 1990, residents of Ferguson who were identified in the U.S. Census as White comprised 73.8% of the total, while those identified as Black made up 25.1%.[23] (The remainder, 1.1%, identified with other racial categories.) In the 2000 census, 44.7% were White and 52.4% were African American.

As of the 2010 census, [3] there were 21,203 people, 8,192 households, and 5,500 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,425.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,322.6/km2). There were 9,105 housing units at an average density of 1,470.9 per square mile (567.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.4% African American, 29.3% White, 0.5% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.4% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Hispanic and Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 8,192 households of which 39.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.6% were married couples living together, 31.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 32.9% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.12.

The median age in the city was 33.1 years. 28.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.2% were from 25 to 44; 25.3% were from 45 to 64; and 10.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 44.8% male and 55.2% female.


Appendix – VIDEOs:

VIDEO 1: Attorney  General Eric Holder on the Ferguson Racial Bias –

March 4, 2015 – Ferguson, Missouri. Police fostered a “highly toxic environment” of racism and misconduct that turned the city into a “powder keg” that was ready to explode after the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown last year, Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday — even though the officer who shot Brown was determined to have committed no crime.

VIDEO 2: DOJ Finds Pattern of Racial Discrimination in Ferguson Police –

March 3, 2015 – Report on Ferguson Exposes Broader Effort to Reform Municipal Courts – Ferguson officers routinely charge multiple violations for the same conduct, competing to see who can issue the most citations during a single stop. In one particularly egregious example, he cited the case of a woman For example, who received two parking tickets in 20078 that totaled $152. But so far, she has paid $550 in fines and fees, has been arrested twice for having unpaid tickets and has spent six days in jail — and “yet she still inexplicably owes Ferguson $541,” he said.


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