A few data points for anyone who thinks what’s been happening in Ferguson, MO is an isolated incident as opposed to an ongoing, systemic problem.
- Ferguson Mayor James Knowles was asked about the diversity of his police department: 53 officers, just three of them African-American in a community that’s 67 percent African-American, according to 2010 Census data.
- Blacks in Ferguson are almost twice as likely to be searched during traffic stops; But statistically, Ferguson police find contraband significantly more often after searching whites.
- From the same source, blacks in Ferguson are disproportionately more likely to be pulled over in the first place, and more likely to be arrested, than whites.
It’s not just Ferguson.
- Blacks comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, and are consistently documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races. But blacks comprise nearly one – third ( 31 percent) of those arrested for drug law violations – and more than 40 percent of those incarcerated in state or federal prison for drug law violations.
- New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 5 million times since 2002… [B]lack and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics.
- A report on 313 black people killed by police, security guards, and vigilantes in 2012. Note that at least 44% were unarmed.
- [T]he young, the male, the Black and the Latino are disproportionately incarcerated. Put those factors together and you have almost 9% of Black men in their late 20s behind bars.
- A 2012 study found that unemployment rates “were highest for Blacks (13.8 percent) and for American Indians and Alaska Natives (12.3 percent).“
- On average, blacks receive almost 10% longer sentences than comparable whites arrested for the same crimes. At least half this gap can be explained by initial charging choices, particularly the filing of charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences. Prosecutors are … almost twice as likely to file such charges against blacks.
- There are 44 African American Members (8.1% of the total membership) in the 113th Congress. (The 2010 Census found that 12.6% of the population identified as Black or African American.)
- A 2010 study on racial motivation for hate crimes found that:
- 18.2 percent stemmed from anti-white bias.
- 69.8 percent were motivated by anti-black bias.
- The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households.
There’s a lot more data out there, but I hope this will help people who are watching events in Ferguson and throughout the country, and having trouble understanding where all of the anger is coming from.