Missouri

BuzzFeed Compares Ferguson Legal System To Slavery!

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BuzzFeed Compares Ferguson Legal System To . . . Slavery…

Unknowingly Buzzfeed is giving a history lesson on the party of Democrats. Arrest warrants are a poll tax in disguise preventing black people from voting.

In 2012, a 32-year-old black man named Michael was sitting in his car in Ferguson, Missouri, cooling off after playing basketball, when a police officer accused him of being a pedophile stalking children in the adjacent park. When he objected, according to a recent Justice Department report, he was arrested at gunpoint and charged with eight violations of the city’s municipal laws, one of which was giving his name as “Mike” instead of “Michael.”

Michael told Justice Department investigators that “because of these charges, he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years.” […]

The 13th Amendment did not abolish slavery, not entirely. Instead, after Reconstruction, as the North surrendered the fight for black rights and the white men of the South violently reimposed systems of government based on white supremacy, blacks were coerced back into involuntary servitude.

Just as in Ferguson, the primary mechanism for this new slavery, as recounted by journalist Douglas Blackmon in his groundbreaking book Slavery by Another Name, was two-bit charges designed to impose legal debts on blacks they would be required to work off. Their “crimes” ranged from “changing employers without permission, vagrancy, riding freight cars without a ticket,” or even “adultery” or “selling cotton after sun set.” Blacks would be given no choice but to pay for their “crimes” with re-enslavement to private actors under horrifying conditions. […]

That history is crucial to understanding Ferguson, where the Justice Department found that its overwhelmingly white police force and municipal court system were designed to treat its mostly black residents “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.” City officials used the police force as “a collection agency for its municipal court,” urging police and court officials alike to squeeze ever more revenue from residents. […]

More than simply a source of cheap labor or civic revenue, the convict-leasing system of the late 19th and early 20th century was an effective weapon in the white crusade to disempower blacks politically, prevent them from rising out of poverty, and keep blacks in their place. “African Americans were trapped in a catch-22 between the laws criminalizing the mores of black life and other laws that effectively barred them from assimilating into mainstream white American society or improving their economic position,” Blackmon wrote.

The devastating effects of Ferguson’s city government are chronicled in detail in the Justice Department report. Residents were imprisoned, lost their jobs, or were mired in debt for years. In Ferguson, a town of some 21,000 people, the number of outstanding warrants is 16,000, which exceeds the 13,635 voters registered in 2012. Much has been made of the composition of Ferguson’s entirely white political leadership, but Ferguson residents with outstanding warrants may simply not wish to risk their homes, jobs, or families to cast a ballot.

 

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