In yesterday’s Department of Justice report on last summer’s killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson there is no shortage of statistics that should be of great concern to all. A recap, including a thought on how statistics can sometimes be misleading, can be found in the Washington Post.
Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association and Vice President of Shield of Hope, has been interviewed countless times since the incident and was again front and centre yesterday as the DOJ report was made public. Given his position it is not surprising that he backs Officer Wilson’s shooting of the unarmed youth. But what is a bit odd is Roorda’s take on one of the disturbing findings.
According to the report, “African-Americans experience disparate impact in nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system. Despite making up 67 percent of the population, African-Americans accounted for 85 percent of FPD’s traffic stops, 90 percent of FPD’s citations, and 93 percent of FPD’s arrests from 2012 to 2014.”
Roorda responded to this by pointing out that the racial breakdown applies only to those who actually reside in Ferguson, “heads on pillows” as he put it. In fact on a daily basis many more African-Americans can be found in Ferguson from neighboring counties and cities. That’s all fine and dandy.
It seems to me the fact that 93% of people arrested in Ferguson from 2012 to 2014 were African-Americans can hardly be attributed to African-Americans just passing through. If the population is 67% African-American, and 70% of arrests involved this community then perhaps Mr. Roorda’s claim could be taken seriously, not necessarily accepted. But when fully 93% of arrests are carried out on one segment of the population, whether African-Americans, left-handed people, those with eye-glasses, or redheaded folks, there is some sort of targeting going on.