Is Ferguson Feeding on the Poor? City Disproportionately Stops, Charges and Fines People of Color | Democracy Now! ›
As the police killing of Michael Brown has focused global attention on the racial divide in the counties in and surrounding St. Louis, Missouri, a new report may explain why residents’ mistrust of the police runs so deep. It shows how a large part of the revenue for these counties comes from fines paid by African-American residents who are disproportionately targeted for traffic stops and other low-level offenses. In Ferguson, the fines and fees are actually the city’s second-largest source of income, which is expected to generate $2.7 million in fiscal year 2014. We speak with Thomas Harvey, executive director of ArchCity Defenders and co-author of their new report, which has been widely cited — including in a stunning chart in Monday’s New York Times that shows how Ferguson issued on average nearly three warrants per household last year — the highest number of warrants in the state, relative to its size. “What my clients have told me since the first day I’ve ever represented anybody is, this is not about public safety, it’s about the money,” Harvey says. We also hear about the impact of the police harassment and ticketing from George Fields, who was among the local residents lined up for Michael Brown’s funeral on Monday in St. Louis.