By Shaun King
While Ferguson, Missouri, has become the symbol for all that can go wrong at the intersection of racism and the justice system, a plethora of new studies are showing that the problems of Ferguson extend way beyond its city limits into surrounding towns in Missouri and all over the country.
At the heart of the DOJ's Ferguson report are three main ideas:
1. The government used citations and fees as a primary source of funding.
2. African Americans in Ferguson were disproportionately cited for crimes small and large.
3. Other instances of racism were found.
The reality is, though, that a variation of these three main ideas can be found in countless other cities—sometimes with even worse conditions than Ferguson. For instance, according to the NY Times, in Ferguson, police stopped African-American motorists at 1.4 times their percentage of the population, but in nearby Chesterfield it's actually 3 times, St. Charles 2.8 times, and Florissant 2.7 times. In Springfield, in southern Missouri, African-American motorists have been stopped 3.4 times their percentage of the population.
A powerful study conducted by USA Today determined that outside of Missouri, disparities are often so outrageous that they actually dwarf the numbers found in Ferguson. For instance, consider Dearborn, Michigan:
That study also zeroed in on just how problematic the towns surrounding Ferguson are.
None of this is said to give Ferguson a pass, but to show just how widespread the problems identified by the Ferguson report are all across the country.