Posted by Elaine Magliaro
From the Washington Post (August 13, 2014):
The department bears little demographic resemblance to the citizens of this St. Louis suburb, a mostly African American community whose suspicions of the law enforcement agency preceded Saturday afternoon’s shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who this week had been headed to technical college.
But while the racial disparity between the public here and its protectors has come to define the violent aftermath of Brown’s death, the department’s problems stretch back years and include questions about its officers’ training and racial sensitivity.
The office of Missouri’s attorney general concluded in an annual report last year that Ferguson police were twice as likely to arrest African Americans during traffic stops as they were whites.
And late last year, the state chapter of the NAACP filed a federal complaint against the St. Louis County police department, whose officers are now assisting Ferguson’s force since the shooting, over racial disparities in traffic stops, arrests and other actions.
Tensions between residents and the police have shaped the aftermath of Brown’s death in unpredictable and alarming ways. Those include the nightly clashes between young residents, most of whom are African American, and a predominantly white police force dressed in full riot gear and armed with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.