In the scathing 105-page report on the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court system, hundreds of incidents of racism, corruption, cronyism, and discriminatory profiteering are detailed—with employees from the top to the bottom in Ferguson driving the system every day of the week. |
The report makes it clear that Ferguson's government wasn't made up of just a few bad apples, but that the entire system was completely infected. The primary symptom of that infection was the misery of black families in and around the city, frequently arrested without cause, confronted, harassed, and ticketed for "crimes" like jaywalking or simply sitting in their cars, forced to pay excessive fines or suffer jail time. Ferguson, with an almost exclusively white government but predominantly black population, looked and felt more like apartheid South Africa than modern-day America.
In the picture above, you are looking at former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, two months before he killed Mike Brown, with his hands around Mary Ann Twitty, the top court clerk in Ferguson, who was cited in the DOJ report over and over and over again for racism and corruption. She was the first person fired by Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. While she dismissed tickets and citations for white judges and friends, she pushed and pushed for every penny of every fine to be paid by African Americans every chance she got. She sent flagrantly racist emails openly to her colleagues as if they all must have shared her beliefs.
While it's great that Mary Ann Twitty has been fired, she was not the exception in Ferguson, but the rule. Below the fold are at least three more Ferguson executives who are cited in the DOJ report for racism and corruption, who still remain on the job to somehow clean up the mess.
John Shaw, chief executive of Ferguson
John Shaw runs Ferguson. As chief executive officer, he hires and fires whom he pleases. Not the mayor, but John Shaw, is king. Whatever Ferguson is or isn't, falls in his lap. In the six months since Mike Brown was killed, have you ever heard of him? Me neither.
Over and over again, Shaw is cited in the Ferguson report for being the primary driver of the system that over-criminalized black Ferguson residents for profit. While he actively engaged in conversations with the DOJ about how he would improve the system and pledged to make changes, he defiantly refused to actually to act on them.
Hired in 2007, Shaw had been at the job for eight years and he drove revenue up year after year on the backs of Ferguson's black residents by any means necessary. No single person was more aware of how the Ferguson budget worked and why it worked that way than Shaw.
The Ferguson we know today doesn't exist in spite of him—he built it.
Ronald J. Brockmeyer, Ferguson municipal judge
Ronald Brockmeyer is the one and only municipal court judge who ran the show in Ferguson. A defense attorney by trade, Brockmeyer terrorized African Americans in Ferguson as his side job.
He doesn't even live in Ferguson, but lives and works in neighboring St. Charles, and drove in to Ferguson to work as the part-time municipal court judge who brought full-time pain to African Americans. In the DOJ report, Brockmeyer is listed over and over again for boosting fees on African Americans to increase revenue for the city in ways that were both abusive and unlawful. The Ferguson report explicitly states that Brockmeyer colluded with the Ferguson police and prosecutor to boost fees for the government.
Radley Balko of the Washington Post revealed all the way back in September, just a month after Mike Brown was killed, how St. Louis area towns were squeezing its black residents for profit, that Ronald Brockmeyer not only served as chief prosecutor for the town of Florissant—where he routinely made life miserable for African Americans—but also served as head prosecutor in the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood, drawing salaries for each position in addition to his salary as judge in Ferguson.
Let's summarize this:
According to the recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge – yes, the judge — in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills.
Brockmeyer, who still practices as a defense attorney, is:
—Lead Prosecutor for Florissant
—Municipal Prosecutor for Vinita Park
—Municipal Prosecutor for Dellwood
—Municipal Judge for Ferguson
—Municipal Judge for Breckenridge Hills
In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find one single person who is making more money in more ways off of violating the constitutional rights of African Americans in and around St. Louis than Brockmeyer. It's likely that he is used in and around all of these towns for the very reason that he harshly judges and prosecutes African Americans for the single reason of boosting revenues for these local governments. He gets the job done.
In Florissant, Brockmeyer helped create similar conditions described by the DOJ in Ferguson.
Just inside the courthouse/gymnasium door in Florissant, two police officers and a court clerk check people in. In the middle of the gym, about 200 chairs sit neatly aligned in rows. Court has been in session for over an hour now, but most of the seats are still occupied. About 80 percent of the people in the gym tonight are black, even though blacks make up just 27 percent of the town. According to statistics compiled by Missouri’s attorney general’s office, 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black. The search and arrest rates for blacks were also twice as high as those rates for whites, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband, a contradiction that has also been widely reported in Ferguson.
Thomas Jackson, Ferguson chief of police
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announces the name of the officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown as officer Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri August 15, 2014.
Alongside Shaw who managed the city and Brockmeyer who managed the court system, the corrupt system detailed by the DOJ could not have existed without Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who managed the police officers who routinely cited, arrested, assaulted, and harassed African Americans without cause.
A stone-cold liar, as recently as last month Chief Jackson went on CBS News to boldly proclaim that "there is not a racial problem in the police department" and went on to detail how racial profiling simply doesn't exist in Ferguson.
Except it does.
Jackson oversees one of the most discriminatory police departments in America and has been at the helm for nearly every single racist incident in his department described in the DOJ Ferguson report. Not only was he fully aware of all of those incidents, he has stonewalled and denied that any of them ever existed for months, insisting that he and the department are simply misunderstood. More than ever, we now understand Jackson and the corrupt force that he has overseen very clearly.
These men should not remain in office to oversee any type of systemic overhaul in Ferguson. They are the problem. Not only should they be terminated—these men and woman need to face real consequences for their illegal and unconstitutional practices. They have violated the rights of thousands of people and fostered a deeply embedded culture of racism in Ferguson.