(COMMON DREAMS) Karen Dolan, Bob Lord, December 9, 2015 — An 18-year-old Mike Brown was walking to his grandmother’s house one summer afternoon in Ferguson Missouri. An officer stops him for jaywalking. He ends up lying dead in the road for four hours. Walter Scott is pulled over for a broken taillight in a high poverty area in South Carolina. He flees- presumably out of fear of back child support owed to the state. Minutes later, he is dead on the ground, shot in the back. A 16-year-old girl is thrown across a classroom by a school cop for failing to relinquish her cell phone. A 17-year-old boy with a small knife, walking away from officers, is shot 16 times — 15 of those bullets pumped into his already dead body in the middle of the Chicago road.
The list of these tragic deaths is long. Over 1,000 deaths have occurred at the hands of law enforcement so far this year. Black males are 3.5 times more likely to become victims than their white counterparts.
Cell phone videos of police brutality have forced this country to confront the ways poverty and race play out in city after city, school after school, jail after jail. We know the factors underlying America’s legacy of racism contribute to this crisis. But one factor largely has been overlooked.
When the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the shooting of Mike Brown, it found an excessive pursuit of revenue through over-aggressive policing of minor violations such as traffic and municipal code offenses. Further, it found racial bias on the part of authorities against the majority black population in Ferguson.