Ferguson Emails Reveal Racist Attitudes

Emails among Ferguson, MO, police officers and court officers reveal racial bias. In an investigation following the shooting of Michael Brown (and the grand jury's decision not to indict the officer who shot him), the Justice Department discovered offensive emails, six of which were published.

One email, according to NPR, said that "President Barack Obama would not be president for very long because 'what black man holds a steady job for four years.'" Others compared the president to a chimpanzee and conveyed more stereotypes about African-Americans, Muslims, and people on welfare.

According a the Justice Department's report, the emails reflect the culture of the police department and court system:

"Ferguson's police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson's own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities."

In a news conference, Ferguson Major James Knowles condemned the behavior and announced that two of the three employees who wrote the emails were terminated, and a third was placed on administrative leave. 

Discussion Starters: 

  • Assess the mayor's news conference. How well does he assure the public that proper actions have been taken?
  • What other communications would you like to see, for example, from the police department or court system?
  • How do we get people to stop writing emails that they don't want discovered?