Like most people, we took the News of the Justice Dept. on Ferguson Mo. to have two findings: I. The officer involved in the shooting that originally brought the Justice Dept.(DOJ) to town was totally exonerated and 2. The Town was a cesspool of racism. We took solace in some justice for the officer even as we realize his life is probably ruined and people in power were shown to be the owrst kind of raciists. After all even people on the right expressed their disapproval of the City Government and police Dept. We probably wouldn’t have ever questioned the second finding if we hadn’t finally read a Washington Post article we had saved, “The 12 Key Highlights from the DOJ’s Scathing Ferguson Report ” by Mark Berman and Wesley Lowery March 4. As we read, it became apparent that the key point of the Report,was that even though the Blacks made up only 67% of the town’s population they accounted for 93% of arrests makes an open and shut case of racism. It’s been a long time since any of us took statistics but the idea that you should always compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges and and you have to account for variables has stuck with us. The 67.4% figure came from the 2010 census but the crime figures are from 2012-14. You might think wouldn’t make a big difference but you would be wrong.
Ferguson’s Black population grew 28% 2000 to 20010. Even though demographic change in neighborhoods and towns tends to accelerate once the majority decisively changes, just continuing this progression thru 2014 brings you to approx. 80%. Well, you might say 90+% is greater than 80% so there still is an indication of bias. This ignores a salient fact, Ferguson’s white population is much older. Why is this important? Young people commit more crimes. A lot more crimes. They have more accidents and yes they get more tickets. Just look at the difference in auto insurance premiums for a 20 year old vs. a 40yr. old. Factor in the considerable difference in median age between blacks and whites and any statistical proof of bias evaporates. We can easily see this in the following graphs. In the first can see the rapid growth of Blacks (in green and Whites in red) in Ferguson and the age differences between the two groups. Green predominates on the left (young) and red shows more on the right (old).
The second graph shows the distribution of crime by age.
In light of these demographic revisions, the group of supposed bad police behaviors listed looks like possible bad acts that might occur over an eight year period (2007 thru 2014) in any police jurisdiction. Judging from complaints filed, when we looked at predominately Black Gary Indiana and Newark New Jersey and we found similar questionable actions. If true, we deplore any these actions in all three cities but it hardly proves racial bias.
So what are we left with? The nasty emails and and fines as a major source of town revenues. Let anyone that hasn’t had a nasty joke show up in their email over the last eight years cast the first stone. It won’t be us. We usually don’t bother with the multitude of jokes people send, but we took the time to actually read some from the last few months and were aghast. We would wager that regardless of your ethnic background someone could find something offensive on your computer. You may have had nothing to do with it but if found will make you look very bad. Before the DOJ makes a big deals of a few jokes, let us have a look at their emails. Oh, wait this administration has a real problem finding emails so we won’t hold our collective breathe.
The strangest DOJ claim has to do with fines as a major source of municipal income being an indication of bias. Does anyone think that Ferguson was the first municipality to pad it’s income with ticket quotas and fines. Municipal Speed traps have been with us since before the Model T. To claim that they only prey on the poor and black, is absurd. According to the National Motorist Association, three of the top five speed traps in North America are in Ontario Canada. Blacks make up 4.3% of Ontario’s population. During the last Super Bowl in Arizona, attendees staying Scottsdale Hotels were warned about driving through adjoining Paradise Valley which apparently is well known for it’s Photo Radar revenue source. With a minimum acre lot size, this is anything but a poor minority community. Surrounded by other affluent communities, PV is differentiated from them by having almost no commercial property so maybe tickets and fines are an appealing way to add revenue. What this means is that speed traps while reprehensible, they are not primarily aimed at any minority. It’s just indicative of municipal greed.
But what of the fact that while Ferguson is overwhelmingly black, the The Municipal Government, police force and courts are overwhelmingly white? Doesn’t this prove bias? This brings up the most interesting thing about the DOJ report. What wasn’t in it. There is no claim that black residents were in anyway impeded from voting. If there was any proof of that we all can agree it would’ve been front and center in the report. After all this DOJ is all about minority voting. Blacks became the majority in Ferguson before the turn of the century and there has been several election cycles since. With all this supposed bias and picking on black people, there was nothing to prevent this aggrieved community going in mass to the polls and and throw the oppressive whites right out of city hall. Nothing was stopping them but they never did. If your municipality was making your life a living hell, wouldn’t you at least vote to toss bums out? This just doesn’t add up.
A final weird result of all this is the fact that given the demographic trends, the future government of Ferguson will undoubtedly be dominated by blacks. They will be the ones faced with trying to rebuild a shattered town and have to implement the onerous DOJ dictates. Strange Karma. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, a towns worst nightmare must be hearing “We’re from the DOJ and we’re here to help.”