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The Ferguson Report: Department of Justice Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department
     

The Ferguson Report: Department of Justice Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department

by Theodore M. Shaw (Introduction), United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
 

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On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American high school senior, was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. For months afterward, protestors took to the streets demanding justice, testifying to the racist and exploitative police department and court system, and connecting the shooting of Brown with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric

Overview


On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American high school senior, was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. For months afterward, protestors took to the streets demanding justice, testifying to the racist and exploitative police department and court system, and connecting the shooting of Brown with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and other young black men at the hands of police across the country.

In the wake of these protests, the Department of Justice launched a six-month investigation, resulting in a report that Colorlines characterizes as "so caustic it reads like an Onion article" and laying bare what the Huffington Post calls "a totalizing police regime beyond any of Kafka's ghastliest nightmares." Among the report's findings are that the Ferguson Police Department "Engages in a Pattern of Unconstitutional Stops and Arrests in Violation of the Fourth Amendment," "Detain[s] People Without Reasonable Suspicion and Arrest[s] People Without Probable Cause," "Engages in a Pattern of First Amendment Violations," "Engages in a Pattern of Excessive Force," and "Erode[s] Community Trust, Especially Among Ferguson's African-American Residents."

Contextualized here in a substantial introduction by renowned legal scholar and former NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund president Theodore M. Shaw, The Ferguson Report is a sad, sobering, and important document, providing a snapshot of American law enforcement at the start of the twenty-first century, with resonance far beyond one small town in Missouri.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I was shocked but not that surprised . . . all of the police departments, all of the mayors and county and other officials throughout the country [need to] take a look in the mirror."
—Colin Powell

"What the Justice Department report demonstrates is that we’re not crazy. There is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across America."
—Michelle Alexander

"Utterly devastating."
—Charles Blow

"Scathing."
—Wolf Blitzer

"The scope of the racism and appalling behavior is worse than I expected."
—Jeffrey Toobin

"Damning."
—Gwen Ifill

"The Department of Justice’s investigation of the Ferguson Police Department has scandalized the nation, and justly so."
—David Graeber

Kirkus Reviews
2015-06-18
A government report reveals Ferguson, Missouri's failed system. The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson has been fixed in the national consciousness since Aug. 9, 2014, when Michael Brown, a young, unarmed African-American, was shot and killed by a white police officer. Protests and civil unrest followed, and Ferguson became a dramatic flash point in the nationwide controversy over police killings of unarmed African-American men. In September 2014, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice opened an investigation in Ferguson. In March 2015, the division issued two reports. One found no reason to disagree with a grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown; the other, perhaps more significant, report was itself an indictment of the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court. That report is published now in book form, and through its staid, official language, there emerges a story that is part tragedy and part farce. The report concludes that the Ferguson police and court system have one overriding aim: to maximize city revenue through citations and court fees, even at the expense of public safety and community service. The police achieve this by aggressively issuing citations, often through unconstitutional practices, and the court imposes onerous fees and embroils defendants in a massively dysfunctional bureaucracy. The city's African-American citizens are disproportionally impacted, and the report attributes this in part to racist attitudes among some city leaders, employees, and police. In his introduction, legal scholar Shaw (Law/Univ. of North Carolina) calls the report "comprehensive, objective, factual, and damning," and of that there is no doubt. But important questions of whether Ferguson is an aberration or why the city was so desperate for revenue are left unexamined. Few general readers will choose to wade through this lengthy, scathing report, but every American should be familiar with its findings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620971604
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
06/23/2015
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
574,426
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author


Theodore M. Shaw, former president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, is the Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill, where he lives.

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