Now that the Department of Justice report on Ferguson has been released, the veil has been lifted on a corrupt system that bled that town’s African-American citizens of their income, rights and freedom. Ferguson’s Municipal Court had become a criminal enterprise bent on increasing revenue by bleeding citizens dry.
The racist jokes and comments forwarded by city officials are the tip of the iceberg in this DOJ report. Though that sort of racism is abhorrent, extorting money under threat of additional fees, fines and jail time is what really boggles my mind. Funny how problems arise when you’ve got a judge who is also a prosecutor and defense attorney, all at the same time. (Not to mention the assorted co-conspirators who seem to be straight out of Idiot Racist Central Casting.)
Sure, Ferguson is a mess, but what is particularly tragic is that a system of debtors’ prisons festers nationwide. And while not every city or town robs citizens at the barrel of a (police) gun, racial disparities in the criminal justice system provide fertile ground for the abuses seen in Ferguson. I urge you to dive deeper into the links in this blog post as well as those located here.
Mark Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist based in San Francisco, where his work has been featured on the San Francisco Chronicle’s web site, SFGate.com, for over ten years. His work has also appeared on Newsweek.com, Slate.com, CBSNews.com, MotherJones.com and NPR’s web site. Fiore’s political animation has been featured on CNN, Frontline, BillMoyers.com, Salon.com, and cable and broadcast outlets across the globe.