Satire: Ferguson's Biased Policing is Very Extremely Unique
From AlterNet's Satire desk:
New York—The widespread, racially biased policing described in the U.S. Justice Department's new report about Ferguson, Missouri, has "absolutely not been going on anywhere else in America, guaranteed" insisted representatives of the newly minted U.S. Police Reputation Defense Bureau, Inc.
"What has happened in Ferguson is very extremely unique," said the Bureau's press statement. The Bureau's spokesperson said the Justice Department's findings create "a terrific opportunity to emphasize that this kind of racist policing is unknown in the rest of America."
In Ferguson, police officers conducted "pedestrian checks" where they stopped people for no probable cause and demanded to see identification. "We've never before heard of such a thing," said the Bureau.
The Justice Department report cited Ferguson police officers who said that when people were unwilling to show identification, they usually arrested them. "Totally unique" said the Police Reputation Defense Bureau.
When people in Ferguson simply expressed their constitutional right not to be searched without probable cause, they were often arrested and jailed.
According to the Justice Department investigation, blacks in Ferguson constitute two-thirds of the residents, but 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of tickets, and 93 percent of arrests are of blacks. In cases that depend upon police discretion, like jaywalking, blacks were 95 percent of those charged.
"Can you believe that?" said the Police Reputation Defense Bureau. "This does not go on in Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Miami, and especially not in New York City. Only in Ferguson, go figure."
According to the Justice Department, court fines in Ferguson were a major source of revenue and police supervisors insisted that officers hit ticket quotas.
According to the Bureau, ticket and arrest quotas are "never, ever, ever" used by other police departments. "The police department in Ferguson came up with that one on their own; it was totally their idea," said the Bureau's representative.
"If you want proof," said the Bureau, "just ask any police chief in America if his department has arrest and ticket quotas, especially ones that target black and Latino neighborhoods. He will look you straight in the eyes and say that there is absolutely nothing like that going on."
The Justice Department also offered harsh descriptions of the criminal court system in Ferguson. As the New York Times reported, in Ferguson the courts are a "bureaucratic morass" where people often receive the wrong court dates, are not told how much they owe, and where "court procedures are made up on the fly."
In Ferguson, reported the Times, "criminal arrest warrants are issued for people who miss a payment or appearance," even for petty violations, and when police later stop them and check their IDs, they are often arrested and jailed.
The Police Reputation Defense Bureau insisted that all these racially biased and unconstitutional police practices happen "only in Ferguson." Adding, "and what happens in Ferguson stays in Ferguson."
In announcing key findings of the Justice Department's investigation, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder described Ferguson as "a community where both policing and municipal court practices were found to disproportionately harm African American residents" and where "this harm frequently appears to stem ... from racial bias both implicit and explicit."
"Wow" said the Bureau's spokesperson, "can you believe how bad that place is? We here at the Bureau are shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that there is one single, solitary place in America where this kind of thing has occurred. Shocked."
The Police Reputation Defense Bureau strongly urged that no other prosecutors in America subpoena police records and thoroughly research the routine practices of police departments and courts. They also said that city councils and county commissioners everywhere should not waste their time holding hearings about the massive enforcement of low-level offenses primarily in low-income black and Latino neighborhoods. "The Justice Department has taken care of that," said the Bureau.
The Bureau said that legal organizations, civic groups, academic researchers and major foundations also should not investigate and report on routine police and court practices for low-level offenses "because they too would only find that Ferguson, as we've said before, is uniquely unique."
The Police Defense Bureau did acknowledge that there were "a few extremely unusual and isolated cases of apparent racially biased policing elsewhere in America."
For example, in 2013 the ACLU released a 200 page report, “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.” Using FBI data it showed that all major police departments in every state in America arrest blacks at much higher rates than whites for possessing small amounts of marijuana, even though whites use marijuana at the same or higher rates.
"The ACLU showed this racially biased policing for marijuana possession was happening in hundreds of police departments," said the Bureau. "But it is very important to remember, as is well known, that marijuana possession is the only crime for which this kind of racial bias has existed -- since even before the Civil War."
Similarly, research of New York City Criminal Court records has found that the NYPD averaged eight bike-on-sidewalk tickets a year in Park Slope, a mostly white and upper-middle-class neighborhood. However, in the nearby neighborhood of Bedford Stuyvesant, which is nearly all black and Latino residents, police gave out over two thousand of the bike tickets a year.
The Police Reputation Defense Bureau said this pattern is because of the well-known fact that for some reason white people do not like to ride bicycles, but that black youth have decided that bike riding is cool. "Bike riding is like saggy pants and backwards hats, just a black thing."