Outstanding warrants in Ferguson outnumber residents nearly 2 to 1
By RYAN GORMAN
Outstanding warrants outnumber residents in Ferguson, Missouri nearly two-to-one, a new report has revealed.
The St. Louis suburb, where unarmed black teen Michael Brown was shot dead August 9 by white police officer Darren Wilson, has just over 21,000 residents and had more than 40,000 arrest warrants as of June 2013, according to ArchCity Defenders, a local advocacy group.
The town's aggressive policing strategies and difficult to navigate court system generated $2,635,400 in fine revenue for the small town in 2013. Court fines are Ferguson's second-largest source of revenue, according to the Daily Beast.
"The City of Ferguson has more warrants than residents," reads a letter from ArchCity Defenders to Ferguson mayor James Knowles. "Most of these warrants are from unpaid fines for nonviolent offenses.
"For many young people, these warrants act as a barrier to employment and housing. Just as importantly, the psychological trauma of spending each day subject to arrest and incarceration is debilitating."
The large number of warrants is unusual for a town of its size, but not in that area.
The neighboring town of Pine Lawn, which is 96 percent black, has a population of 3,275 and a staggering 23,000 outstanding warrants, according to the Riverfront Times.
ArchCity Defenders believes this method of policing is predatory and leading to a rift between citizens and authorities. The group wants Ferguson to forgive most fines and warrants, it wrote in the letter.
Ferguson residents are not alone in feeling police forces discriminate against minorities, according to a recent Pew Research Institute Poll.
Only 37 percent of whites in the U.S. feel police treat minorities fairly, Pew found, and a meager 10 percent of blacks agree.
Traffic stop statistics in Ferguson – blacks comprise 71 percent of the population, but 87.3 percent of stops, according to ArchCity Defenders – bare these numbers out.
About 41 percent of whites feel police use the right amount of force for each situation, according to the poll. Only six percent of blacks feel similarly.
Despite this difference of opinion of police shared by the two groups, 69 percent of the public feel blacks and whites get along "very well" or "pretty well," according to the poll.
ArchCity Defenders plans to make their case during an upcoming Ferguson city council meeting, where five of the six council members are white.
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