The Ferguson Protesters Are Barking Up The Wrong Tree

The various groups protesting about the death of Mike Brown at the hands of Ferguson PD Officer Darren Wilson are venting their frustration at what they see as a police department that faces no consequences for killing a black man. In fact, all the credible evidence shows that Brown attacked Wilson, and that Wilson’s subsequent use of deadly force was justifiable as a matter of self defense.

Before the #HandsUpDontShoot nonsense started, before Sharpton arrived to inflame (rather literally, given the looting) the protesters, there was a valid point mentioned in the coverage. The population of Ferguson is about 70% black, and there is apparently a feeling that they are ill served by the city services, particularly the predominantly white police department.

Setting aside the fact that black males commit crimes, particularly violent crimes, at rates that are astonishingly greater than whites, there is indeed quite a bit of evidence that the servants of the city of Ferguson have in fact come to see themselves as masters, and the citizenry as serfs whose exist solely to support them.

Ferguson, Missouri, which is recovering from riots following the August shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman, plans to close a budget gap by boosting revenue from public-safety fines and tapping reserves.

The strategy by the St. Louis suburb, which suffered a second round of violent protests last month after a grand jury refused to indict the police officer, may risk worsening community relations with increased citations and weakening its credit standing by reducing a rainy-day fund.

To close a projected deficit for fiscal 2014, which ended June 30, the municipality will deplete a $10 million capital-projects reserve, Jeffrey Blume, Ferguson’s finance director, said in a telephone interview. For the current year, the city is budgeting for higher receipts from police-issued tickets.

Emphasis mine.

Ferguson already has an astonishing number of warrants issued per capita.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

That post goes on to break it down.

You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.”

Tabarrok goes on to show how even something as simple as a speeding ticket can quickly become an extended journey into a hostile justice system with spiraling consequences.

This is the all encompassing state, the pervasive bureaucracy.  Instead of a police force and judiciary to maintain order and preserve peace for the people, we see instead a people burdened to sustain a police force and municipal judiciary.

Does a town of 21,000 residents really need its own police department and its own municipal court system?

Where I live, the municipal police forces are actually sworn deputies of the county. The city pays the county for police services. The courts are also at the county level.

The irony is, the majority black population of Ferguson has reliably voted for Democratic candidates for years and years. You know, the party of big government, the party that wants the state to be all pervasive. The party that is utterly beholden to public employee unions, particularly the powerful police unions.

14 thoughts on “The Ferguson Protesters Are Barking Up The Wrong Tree”

  1. This was an interesting read. I’ve thought the real problem with a lot of this is “Why don’t black people trust police?” Why is it so easy for black people to believe a policeman would murder an unarmed man? These are pretty solid points.

    1. I hate to say it, but there a measurable number of instances where cops stop & check black drivers (usually men) more than they do white male drivers. One of my last bosses -a black guy our age, drove a Dodge, looked every inch a respectable citizen- had a cop follow him off the highway and ask for his ID.

      I grew up in a small city that was about half black & half white when I graduated from high school, and can tell you most black folks there have at least one story of being hassled by the cops. Not saying they were all unjustified, but it happens often enough that it’s easy to fall for the prog propaganda about racism. In fact just last week at work I heard a couple of the (black) folks joking about a white guy getting chased by the local cops. If he had been black he sure woulda been arrested!.

      Certainly high levels of citations don’t help.

    2. I think there are three factors that play into increased stops of black people. One of them is fairly innocuous, the other two significantly less so.

      The first is that since black men commit far more crimes than white men, a black person is more likely to match the description of a suspect. If Trayvon Martin had been white or Asian, he would still be alive. Not because Zimmerman is racist, but because he was looking for a teenaged black man suspected of breaking into garages. Martin met that description, Zimmerman tried to get more information, and the contact escalated to violence.

      The second is a misunderstanding of statistics. Black men are more likely than white men to be criminals. That doesn’t mean a given black man is likely a criminal, the odds overwhelmingly favor him being innocent.

      The last, and least forgivable, is that cops are trained to look for that which is unusual. Given the fact that black people are a minority, and a generally poor one, a black man in a nice car or good neighborhood is unusual. The latter is exacerbated by people in the neighborhood who see a black person and call the police to report someone suspicious. The cop’s can’t ignore the report on the off chance that the suspicious person is actually up to no good.

    1. Yes, but too many traffic tickets for BS reasons lead to some real community problems. I live in the sticks – literally – and I’m white – but when the county got a new “big city” sheriff with the new big city deputies traffic stops became the means to finance new Explorers and Expeditions. Traffic enforcement should never be the primary means of financing the government operations.

    2. Scott, when your department is already issuing an average of 3 citations PER HOUSEHOLD and next year they’re budgeting for an increase in fines just to keep the city funded that seems to me to be an exercise in … what was that old phrase? How did that guy put it … oh, right: taxation without representation.

    3. I always had to have Probable Cause, when I made a traffic stop, increasing revenue is not PC, but then, I don’t live in a big city run by Democrats.

  2. I noted on an earlier post that I live in St louis but I used to live in the County and All of those stupid little municipalities and the County cops do that revenueing bullshit. You have to go all the way out to Franklin or Jefferson counties before people even start to make sense and the shitty city suburbs are constantly pushing their sprawl outward, inflicting city and suburban ideas and practices on those communities too.

    1. Fayette sounding pretty good right now??? If I hadn’t had to stop and help my sister, (in Overland Park< KS.) with a major life ripple I'd be finding my little Fayette now. I've only driven through Fayette once, maybe twice. I applaud your equanimity sir. Your point is well made, and taken.

    1. IIRC, a finding of homicide in a coroner’s report just means that the subject was killed by the actions of another human being, not the result of suicide, accident, or disease. Since there was no doubt that young Tamir was shot by Officer Loehmann, there isn’t any new information here.

      This is one of those truly horrible cases. The outcome is obviously tragic, but a 12 year old with a gun is almost as dangerous as a 22 year old. There’s a lot of information that the responding police have to process to make a threat determination, and they don’t have a lot of time in which to do so. Maybe Loehmann fired too quickly when he arrived on the scene, but a dead kid isn’t evidence of that.

      I’m curious as to the call of someone pointing a gun that the police were responding to. Who made that call, and what were they reporting? What were the cops being told as they were approaching the scene? We know that there are anti-gun nuts who advocate reporting shootings or hostage situations whenever they see an open carrier in the hopes of getting them shot and/or arrested. Was this tragedy due to an over-zealous follower of this plan?

    2. “Maybe Loehmann fired too quickly when he arrived on the scene”

      You think? And of course the idiot driver didn’t help by pulling up right next to the person who was allegedly waving a gun around. That just may be why there wasn’t much time to evaluate the situation.

      ” Was this tragedy due to an over-zealous follower of this plan?”

      You are starting to drift perilously close to conspiracy fantasy land.

  3. It’s not just police, but this is a good example. It’s this pervasive big government thing. When I was in high school the population of my town was 6,000, today it’s 1,900. Back then we had one sheriff, once police chief, one deputy, one officer. Today we have a sheriff with four deputies and a chief with 8 officers. Today there are twice as many teachers for a quarter as many students, three times as many administrators, and 37 additional para-somethings, whatever they are. Back then the city had 11 employees including cops, today 66. The county had 24 employees including cops, today 97.

    1. I submit for your consideration Mr. Evertson that back in the day (50’s-60’s) most people were happy to work….wanted to work, the pay was equitable and middle class was the “gut” of this nation. Your point too is well made and taken.

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