Police in Ferguson, Missouri not only arrested black residents at a disproportionately high rate, but passed around racist jokes about President Barack Obama and black women, according to a Justice Department report.
NPR reported that officers and local court officials spread a joke via email saying Obama would not be in office for long because, “what black man holds a steady job for four years?”
Another joke reportedly concerned a black woman from New Orleans who received a check from “Crime Stoppers” two weeks after ending her pregnancy.
As Reuters reported earlier in the day, the report — which is expected to be released in full on Wednesday — found that local police practices in the city, which has a 67 percent black population, were regularly tainted by racial bias.
For instance, black residents made up 85 percent of vehicle stops and 93 percent of arrests over the past two years, and were twice as likely to be searched by police than white residents. Nearly 100 percent of all jaywalking, disturbing the peace and failure-to-comply charges made by officers over the same time period were also made against black residents.
The New York Times reported that Ferguson officials will have the chance to reach a settlement with the Justice Department or face a lawsuit stemming from the report’s findings.
The government launched the investigation in the wake of Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown last August. Wilson was never indicted in connection with the incident. The Associated Press reported that investigators also determined that 88 percent of documented incidents involving use of force by local police involved black residents.
Brown’s death set off a chain of protests both in Ferguson and around the country, with the department’s findings apparently corroborating allegations by demonstrators of unequal treatment by local officers.
The local court system was also criticized in the report. The department found that municipal judges were 68 percent less likely to dismiss charges against black residents and more likely to issue warrants for their arrest.