Missouri's Attorney General Releases its 2014 Report on Traffic Stops in Proportion to Race

from a member of the Atlanta Revolution Club

June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


In March the U.S. Department of Justice released a report on police practices in Ferguson, Missouri that basically confirmed what Black people in Ferguson (and other cities around the country) had been saying for years: The Ferguson Police Department was routinely violating the constitutional rights of its black residents.

The details of the Ferguson report are reflective of policing practices throughout the state of Missouri. Representatives of the system often admit that racial profiling exists in police departments throughout the country, however it is impossible to know the breadth of the problem since few police departments require their officers to record any data on pedestrian stops or pat-down searches.

In 2000, the state of Missouri became one of the few states with a law requiring that all police departments, both state and local, record the race of each individual they stop. Fifteen years later, the statistics of racial discrepancy in traffic stops are worse. The Missouri Attorney General's report on vehicle stops, released in late May, shows that in the fifteen years since the report began, the racial disparity in traffic stops compared to population was worse in 2014 than any other year.

In 2014, Blacks were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over by police than whites. Both Blacks and Hispanics were searched more often than whites, despite the fact that whites who were pulled over were more likely to be carrying drugs or weapons.

Some reports argue that the high racial profiling numbers are a result of years of neighborhood redlining1, which accounts for extremely high racial profiling numbers in wealthy, white suburbs. The Attorney General's report looks at the traffic stop statistics from 622 police departments throughout the state and looks at the rate of police stops in comparison to the population of each racial group. These numbers expose just how rampant racial profiling is throughout the state of Missouri. The disparity index shows a rating of 1 if police traffic stops of a race are in proportion to their population in the state. A number above 1 shows a higher rate of traffic stops in proportion to the group's population, conversely a number less than 1 shows a lower rate of traffic stops in proportion to population.

In Missouri overall, the disparity index is 1.66 for Blacks and .95 for whites. In order to really see how outrageous racial profiling is in Missouri, it is important to look more closely at local police departments. According to St. Louis Today, in the 60 police departments in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, the disparity is 2.84. However, if you look at a wealthy area like Ladue, the disparity rate is 15.98 for Blacks, and .86 for whites. A Black driver in Ladue is 18.5 times more likely to be pulled over than a white driver. St. Louis Today also points out that numbers do not explain everything and each year the various police departments explain away the numbers, insisting that context matters. However, the real context of these disparities and their roots in the white supremacist bedrock of the USA are exposed even when put in "context." In Ladue, not only are Black drivers 18.5 times more likely to get stopped by the police, it was discovered that the municipal court judge, Keith Cheung, was fixing tickets for white drivers. Other cities show vast disparities that are not much lower than Ladue. You can view the statistical analysis and report here: www.ago.mo.gov/home/vehicle-stops-report

In media coverage of the Missouri Attorney General's report, several "solutions" have been put forth by various federal agencies and civil rights groups. The ACLU has called for a state-wide summit on community-police relations. The Police Executive Research Forum points to the connection between municipal courts being used to fund city operation costs and racial profiling and calls for better police training throughout the region. Similarly, the DOJ's Ferguson Report calls for bias prevention training for police. Others call for diversification of police departments. These "solutions" will NOT solve anything besides keeping the same injustice system in place, legitimizing the enforcement of oppression for which the police serve as the frontline enforcers, and allowing the gears of white supremacy to continue to turn as they have since the first Africans were dragged in chains to the shores of the United States.

The truth is: This SYSTEM cannot do away with MURDER BY POLICE, but REVOLUTION can do away with this SYSTEM! This must be brought to people and this understanding must be fought for vigorously. As it was stated in the Revolution article, "What Is It That The Masses Most Fundamentally Must Be Led to Understand and Act On?":

Most critically and fundamentally: The masses who are now defiantly and courageously rising up in struggle, and the masses of people more broadly, need to be led to correctly understand—and act on the correct understanding of—problem and solution, and the fact that, through communist revolution, there is a way out of the horrors and outrages that they are rising up against and that this system forces them to endure every day.

We need Revolution—Nothing Less!


1. In 1916 St. Louis began the practice of redlining with the passage of an ordinance under which local authorities designated some neighborhoods as "negro villes" where black people were allowed to live; city services were limited in these areas and banks and real estate agencies made it difficult for blacks to obtain mortgages or loans, thus effectively maintaining segregation and producing "urban decay.". These kinds of practices continued to develop through the 20th century, including as part of "The New Deal," when redlining was an official part of the Federal Housing Authority's loan practices. [back]


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