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Ferguson police showed patterns of racial bias for years, says Justice Department

Ferguson police showed patterns of racial bias for years, says Justice Department

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The Ferguson Police Department violated the constitutional rights of the city's black residents for years, says a Department of Justice report expected to be released tomorrow. Federal investigators found that, well before the shooting death of Michael Brown last year, police activity in Ferguson, Missouri, was fueled by racial discrimination against the predominantly black population, resulting in unjustified traffic stops, arrests without probable cause, and the use of excessive force.

Investigators in Ferguson conducted hundreds of interviews and reviewed 35,000 pages of police data to determine definitively if racial bias was at the root of the tensions between officers and the black community. The findings show that, despite comprising only 67 percent of the total population, black people account for 93 percent of all arrests between 2012 and 2014. In addition, 85 percent of all people stopped for a traffic violation and 90 percent of people given citations were black.

93 percent of all those arrested in the past two years were black

The Justice Department also found evidence of racial discrimination in Ferguson police officials' emails. According to The Washington Post, an email sent in November 2008 joked that President Obama wouldn't hold office long, since "what black man holds a steady job for four years."

Attorney General Eric Holder launched the probe last September after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was gunned down by officer Darren Wilson. The shooting sparked months of angry protest on the ground, as well as a protracted debate concerning racism and its poisonous presence in law enforcement. Now, in light of the report's imminent release, police officials in Ferguson must now either reach a settlement with the Justice Department on how to change its practices or be sued for violating the Constitution.