On Monday, I posted a New York Times op-ed piece from a former Missouri state senator talking about what may be one of the root causes of unrest in Ferguson, MO beyond the shooting of Michael Brown.  

Seems that there is more information out there on why the police may have been such a presence in that community long before that horrible incident. Thanks to loyal listener Chris for hipping me to this Newsweek article. While I think it's important to read the piece for yourselves, I'll give you the highlights: 

  • 21,000 people live in Ferguson, MO.
  • 67% of them are African-American
  • Ferguson has three black members on a 53-person police force.
  • Ferguson derives more than a quarter ($2.6 million) of it's annual revenue from fines and court costs.
  • Black people account for 86% of traffic stops in Ferguson.
  • In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court issued 24,532 arrest warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

As Victoria Bekempis put more simply in her story:

"They don't just feel that they are getting stopped because of the color of their skin.  Rather, they feel like they are getting stopped because of the color of their skin so that the city of Ferguson can profit off of them--for traffic tickets."

Now, I'm pretty bad at math, but seems to me we may have found a root cause for exactly why people in Ferguson have an deep-seeded mistrust of police, and may be a tad skeptical of what they're being told about the circumstances leading up to Michael Brown's shooting.