Former Republican operative Nicolle Wallace broke down the significance on Thursday of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) damning findings regarding racially-biased police policies in Ferguson, Missouri.
“I don’t ever worry about getting a ticket for jaywalking. But if you’re black in Ferguson, you should be very scared — terrified,” Wallace told her fellow panelists.
As Newsweek reported on Wednesday, the investigation found that, besides failing to document arrests or complaints against them as well as regularly harassing and attacking black residents, local authorities used a “traffic enforcement initiative” to fuel the city’s coffers with the blessing of city officials.
“What’s troubling is how systematic it was. This was financial,” Wallace said. “They were funding city government functions on the backs of lower-income African-American residents of the town. They created, in effect, a debtor’s prison.”
The probe also revealed that nearly 100 percent of arrests, jaywalking tickets, vehicle stops and failure-to-comply tickets over a two-year period were levied against black residents. Some of Wallace’s fellow panelists, including actress Cristela Alonzo, expressed surprise at the DOJ’s findings.
“I don’t feel safe knowing that anyone would disregard one group over another,” she said. “How does that make me feel safe, because I’m a woman of color. I want to know that whoever’s protecting me is really out to protect me.”
After expressing hope that the investigation would make departments “a little bit more careful” in their hiring decisions, she said that racial profiling by police is going to be an ongoing issue on par with sexism.
“How many more years?” guest host Raven-Symone asked.
“For the rest of our lives,” Goldberg replied. “Because let me tell you, people learn racism. It’s not something you’re born with. So as long as people are teaching it, it’s gonna be there.”
“I was taught ‘racism-ish,'” Symone told her. “But I looked at what my parents were telling me and said, ‘Well, you are teaching me this because you went through those amazing things that I will not have to go through thanks to your hard work. Now, I can’t hold the same grudge that you have ’cause I don’t have the same thing.’ But then again, I don’t get pulled over randomly and if I do I’m like, ‘How you doing?’ But even still, I’m very respectful to the people. I understand this is your job.”
“Most people know because we’ve been all raised — generally, if the cop stops you, shut up and move on,” Goldberg said.
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Thursday, below.