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By Robert A. Vella

Who said this about America’s recurring civil rights problem recently highlighted by the events in Ferguson, Missouri?

“The U.S. is, indeed, a country wantonly violating the human rights where people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their races and they are seized with such horror that they do not know when they are shot to death,” the spokesperson continued. “The protests in Ferguson City and other parts of the U.S. are an eruption of the pent-up discontent and resistance of the people against racial discrimination and inequality deeply rooted in the American society.”

If you guessed a Foreign Ministry spokesman for North Korea, you would be correct.  Yes, North Korea – that abusive totalitarian regime headed by Kim Jong Un.  While it’s not surprising that such an enemy of the U.S. would take advantage of the situation in Ferguson for propaganda purposes, it is surprising that there would be so much truth contained within their purposeful political rhetoric.

ArchCity Defenders has released a Municipal Courts White Paper on three courts (including Ferguson) in the St. Louis area which details systematic institutional bias against the poorest residents in those municipalities:

Overall, we found that by disproportionately stopping, charging and fining the poor and minorities, by closing the Courts to the public, and by incarcerating people for the failure to pay fines, these policies unintentionally push the poor further into poverty, prevent the homeless from accessing the housing, treatment, and jobs they so desperately need to regain stability in their lives, and violate the Constitution. These ongoing violations of the most fundamental guarantees of the Constitution are the product of a disordered, fragmented, and inefficient approach to criminal justice in St. Louis County. It represents a failure of the Municipalities to comply with the guarantees of counsel, reasonable bond assessments, and other constitutional and legal rights of those accused. And, perhaps most importantly, these practices create animosity in the community, contribute to the fractured nature of the St. Louis region, and cost the individual municipalities and the region financially.

From the Los Angeles TimesEconomic harassment and the Ferguson crisis:

And racial profiling appears to be the rule. In Ferguson, “86% of vehicle stops involved a black motorist, although blacks make up just 67% of the population,” the report states. “After being stopped in Ferguson, blacks are almost twice as likely as whites to be searched (12.1% vs. 7.9%) and twice as likely to be arrested.” But those searches result in the discovery of contraband at a much lower rate than searches of whites.

Once the process begins, the system begins to resemble the no-exit debtors’ prisons of yore. “Clients reported being jailed for the inability to pay fines, losing jobs and housing as a result of the incarceration, being refused access to the Courts if they were with their children or other family members….

From the Huffington PostFerguson Averages 3 Warrants Per Household, New Report Shows:

The report from ArchCity Defenders — a legal group that “works to break the cycle of ‘revolving door justice’ in the St. Louis metropolitan area” — reveals that in 2013, “the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.”

In Ferguson, the “majority (67%) of [the city’s 21,203] residents are African-American” and “22% of residents live below the poverty level,” the report mentions before going on to say:

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 […] According to a court employee, the docket for an average court session may include as many as 1,500 cases. Assuming an 80% conviction rate, the average fine in a case resulting in a guilty verdict would be $275.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  If America wants to proselytize to the world about its self-proclaimed righteousness and exceptionalism, it must clean up its own act first.  No one is buying that BS anymore.

Further reading and related stories:

Cartoon: If cops treated bankers the way Ferguson cops treat black people

REPORT: New York City Television Stations Give Lopsided Coverage To Black Crime

Walmart Video Shows John Crawford Was Shot on Sight By Cops With No Warning, Family Attorneys Say

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