Officials in Ferguson, Missouri, exchanged racist jokes over their public email accounts as the city made money off racially discriminatory policing practices, according to the The New York Times, which got an early look at a Justice Department investigation set to be released Wednesday.
Over the past two years, the Times reports:
African-Americans — who make up about two-thirds of the city’s population — accounted for 85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of citations, 93 percent of arrests and 88 percent of cases in which the police used force.
Black motorists were twice as likely as whites to be searched but were less likely to be found in possession of contraband such as drugs or guns.
The DOJ conducted hundreds of interviews and went through over 35,000 pages of police records before finishing its investigation, the Times reported.
Regarding the emails, the Washington Post reports:
A November 2008 e-mail, for instance, stated that President Obama could not be president for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”
The Justice Department did not identify who wrote this and other racist e-mails and whom they were sent to.
The city of Ferguson is already facing a civil-rights lawsuit from 11 area residents on claims that it violated their constitutional rights by operating debtors’ prisons. Sometimes, the plaintiffs claim, they were jailed for weeks after failing to pay fines on traffic tickets and other minor offenses.
Once the report is out, Ferguson can come to a settlement agreement with the federal government or face an additional civil-rights lawsuit.