Political Editors / February 10, 2016

Ferguson: Rally the Black Vote

DOJ demands fines for a system that already preyed upon the poor.

As the nation’s news junkies focused their attention on the New Hampshire primary returns, the City Council of Ferguson, Missouri, took another twist related to the 2014 justified shooting death of Michael Brown. The six-member council voted unanimously to approve the Justice Department’s settlement to reform the city’s unjust policing practices — but “subject to certain conditions.” The DOJ responded to the city’s request by filing a lawsuit against Ferguson, just in time to agitate the black vote in the southern primaries.

The city council wants to amend the section of the 131-page consent decree that stipulates a pay increase for its police officers. If you recall, the city was balancing its budget through aggressive policing practices and a court system that collected fines from city residents hand over fist. With the reform already in place, Ferguson is running a $2.8 million deficit, and the DOJ’s plan would increase expenditures $3.7 million in the first year. Perhaps DOJ didn’t understand that unlike the federal government, local governments have to operate on a balanced budget.

“So just to make it clear,” Reason’s Scott Shackford explained, “the city stands accused of having an abusive law enforcement agency that violates the rights of its citizenry in order to fund itself and its court employees, and the correction being imposed by the Department of Justice is to force the city to have to find sources of even more money to fork over to the very officers that have been abusing residents.” What’s Ferguson to do? Raise taxes on its poor residents?

Make no mistake: Timing is everything. The DOJ’s actions will benefit Hillary Clinton throughout the southern primaries, as blacks are reminded once again of injustice. Never mind that Ferguson (and every other city in which Black Lives Matter is fomenting discord) is run by Democrats. “Residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights — the rights guaranteed to all Americans — for decades,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.” As long as Democrats run the show, they will have to wait longer.

(Updated.)

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