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Poor people’s cash paid for this fancy building

enhanced-18974-1425512361-3“[O]ur investigation found instances in which the court charged $302 for a single Manner of Walking violation; $427 for a single Peace Disturbance violation; $531 for High Grass and Weeds; $777 for Resisting Arrest; and $792 for Failure to Obey, and $527 for Failure to Comply, which officers appear to use interchangeably.”

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“In 2012, a Ferguson City Councilmember wrote to other City officials in opposition to Judge Brockmeyer’s reappointment, stating that ‘[the Judge] does not listen to the testimony, does not review the reports or the criminal history of defendants, and doesn’t let all the pertinent witnesses testify before rendering a verdict.’ The Councilmember then addressed the concern that ‘switching judges would/could lead to loss of revenue,’ arguing that even if such a switch did ‘lead to a slight loss, I think it’s more important that cases are being handled properly and fairly.’ The City Manager acknowledged mixed reviews of the Judge’s work but urged that the Judge be reappointed, noting that ‘[i]t goes without saying the City cannot afford to lose any efficiency in our Courts, nor experience any decrease in our Fines and Forfeitures.'”

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“Data collected by the Ferguson Police Department from 2012 to 2014 shows that African Americans account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made by FPD officers, despite comprising only 67% of Ferguson’s population. African Americans are 68% less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by the court, and are more likely to have their cases last longer and result in more required court encounters. African Americans are at least 50% more likely to have their cases lead to an arrest warrant, and accounted for 92% of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued by the Ferguson Municipal Court in 2013. In 2013, for instance, more than 50% of all African Americans cited received multiple citations during a single encounter with FPD, whereas only 26% of non-African Americans did. Specifically, 26% of African Americans receiving a citation received two citations at once, whereas only 17% of white individuals received two citations at once.”

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“Available data show that, of those actually arrested by FPD only because of an outstanding municipal warrant, 96% are African American.”

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“One woman … received two parking tickets for a single violation in 2007 that then totaled $151 plus fees. Over seven years later, she still owed Ferguson $541—after already paying $550 in fines and fees, having multiple arrest warrants issued against her, and being arrested and jailed on several occasions.”

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“A 67-year-old woman told us she was stopped and arrested by a Ferguson police officer for an outstanding warrant for failure to pay a trash-removal citation. She did not know about the warrant until her arrest, and the court ultimately charged her $1,000 in fines, which she continues to pay off in $100 monthly increments despite being on a limited, fixed income.”

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“City officials have consistently set maximizing revenue as the priority for Ferguson’s law enforcement activity…City and police leadership pressure officers to write citations, independent of any public safety need, and rely on citation productivity to fund the City budget…Court staff are keenly aware that the City considers revenue generation to be the municipal court’s primary purpose.”

(Source: Buzzfeed)  The citizens of Ferguson paid for that building, and it belongs to them. I’m surprised they haven’t bulldozed it yet.


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