Despite a Justice Department report that faulted the city of Ferguson, Mo. and their police department for making racially biased traffic stops and arrests, the city is still dolling out a disproportionate number of arrest warrants to minorities.
The discovery, brought forth by CNNMoney in an exclusive analysis, comes just days after the city recognized the anniversary of Michael Brown Jr.’s death. Brown, unarmed at the time, was shot dead by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. His death sparked protests that spread across the nation, calling for the arrest of the officer and comprehensive reform of police practices. A grand jury failed to indict Wilson months later.
But the recommendations made by the report and the span of a year have done nothing to end the practice of giving out tickets and arrest warrants for minor offenses in what the DOJ said was an attempt by the courts to collect fines for city revenue. According to CNNMoney, the city has issued more than 2,300 arrest warrants in 2015 alone.
That figure, the site points out, only tells half the story. After turning to a state committee of judges to request the release of the city’s court records (a public records request was previously denied), CNNMoney was able to analyze hundreds of pages of court dockets from April and May. Here’s what they found:
For one Ferguson woman, an old ticket for an expired car registration resulted in a warrant that she didn’t learn about until she tried to renew her license several months ago. Meanwhile, her neighbor could be arrested at any time because of a ticket she couldn’t afford to pay for having an old, beat-up car parked in her driveway.
A St. Louis mail carrier went to court in Ferguson five times to fight a ticket for driving through a stop sign, but he still ended up with an arrest warrant when he was late to pay the fine. And CNNMoney spoke to multiple people who had recently been arrested and taken to Ferguson’s jail after police had discovered their warrants during traffic stops.
“They’re still engaging in racial profiling, still over-enforcing and still issuing too many warrants,” said Brendan Roediger, a professor at St. Louis University School of Law who is representing plaintiffs in two lawsuits against Ferguson over its municipal court operations.
There is one sign of improvement, the site reports. Although more than 1,000 people were hit with new arrest warrants between May and June alone — that’s half of all new arrest warrants this year, CNNMoney reports — the warrants issued are down from the same period in 2014.
But with what looks like an increase, that number can change in the blink of an eye.
You can find more information and figures on Ferguson’s new arrest warrants here.
SOURCE: CNNMoney | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
Watch St. Louis Univ. Law Professor Brendan Roediger, Legal Expert Erick Gracia and NewsOne Now guest host Troy Johnson discuss Ferguson and surrounding municipalities generating millions of dollars in revenue through traffic stops, tickets and court fees in the video clip below.