A new analysis of economic development in Ferguson, Missouri, since the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014, shows that the dangerous economic gap between Blacks and whites is largely unchanged. The disparity was viewed by many as a contributing factor that fueled Black anger in the riots following the shooting.
Nearly all the new economic development in the city has been concentrated in the white community, according to the Washington Post.
Several corporations, including Starbucks, had committed to pouring millions of dollars into Ferguson’s Black neighborhoods. However, four years later, the investments went elsewhere in the city and made the economic gap wider.
“Nobody has presented to me any forensic evidence that shows that the stock of a household in Black Ferguson has been improved since the death of Mike Brown. At the end of the day, where is the significant transformation of the lives of the people who live in that part of Ferguson, who suffered the most during all of this? Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP, asked the Post.
After the 2014 uprising, more than $36 million went into new construction, but Brown’s community received on $2.4 million for a job training center. The legacy of racial segregation, as well as economic and political exclusion are part of the reasons given by analysts for the ongoing disparity.
Economic inequality wasn’t the cause of rioting in Ferguson, but “it’s definitely part of the frustration,” Larry Mishel, director of the Economic Policy Institute, told Fortune in 2014. Back then, the unemployment rate for African-Americans in and around Ferguson was about 26 percent compared to just 6.2 percent for whites.
As the economic divide gets larger, the U.S. Department of Justice has taken a leap backwards from actively enforcing police reforms that were started under President Barack Obama’s administration. An investigation of the Ferguson Police Department during the Obama era found a serious pattern of racially biased policing. An unchecked economic divide plus biased policing practices are a dangerous mix.