By Brett Gillin
Only one week ago, news broke that the Justice Department’s report into the Ferguson Police Department found a litany of civil rights violations, specifically when it comes to African Americans. The fallout from that report has already begun in Ferguson, with two police officers quitting, a court clerk being fired, and President Obama making harsh and pointed statements at the department during a town hall session in North Carolina on Friday.
“What we saw was that the Ferguson Police Department, in conjunction with the municipality, saw traffic stops, arrests, tickets as a revenue generator, as opposed to serving the community, and that it systematically was biased against African-Americans in that city who were stopped, harassed, mistreated, abused, called names, fined,” President Obama told the nation during a meeting in Columbia, South Carolina, according to this article in the Huffington Post.
While President Obama was delivering that message, two police officers in Ferguson were resigning from their jobs in the police department, and one court clerk was fired due to controversial and questionable emails being passed between them. The emails, according to this article in CNN, were racist in nature, and were discovered during the Justice Department’s investigation.
One email, sent in October 2011, showed a topless woman dancing in what appeared to be the wilderness of Africa, with the caption “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.” Another depicted President Obama as a chimpanzee, while a third described a man who was trying to put his dogs on welfare because they were “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no … clue who their Daddies are.”
President Obama addressed the controversy in an interview earlier on Friday, telling SiriusXM’s Urban View “I don’t think that is typical of what happens across the country, but it’s not an isolated incident. I think there are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement has broken down, and individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure they are protecting, serving all the people, not just some.”
Amidst President Obama’s comments, the now-revealed racist emails, and the Justice Department’s full report, calls to completely disband the Ferguson Police Department are growing louder. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters “We are prepared to use all the power we have, all the power that we have to ensure that the situation changes there. And that means everything from working with them to coming up with an entirely new structure,” according to this article in Rolling Stone.
During the same town-hall-style meeting, President Obama was asked why there were no federal charges against Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown and sparked countless protests and demonstrations across the nation. According to this article on WYFF4, Obama responded that the standard for federal charges is very high and that he has “complete confidence and stand fully behind the decision that was made by the Justice Department on that issue.”