Studer: Preventing another Ferguson


Samuel Studer
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Earlier this month, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division took steps to sue the city of Ferguson, Missouri, for not accepting a negotiated plan to change the city’s alleged racist policies.

Riots ravaged the town in 2014 after a white police officer killed an unarmed young black male. The shooting goes back to longstanding issues among African Americans about the constant abuse they have suffered at the hands of the Ferguson police and court system.

Last spring, the Justice Department released a report that showed evidence of racism. An analysis of traffic stops confirmed the existence of discrimination that citizens had complained about. The city wrote huge numbers of tickets because it became dependent on the money that tickets produced. Black citizens would become trapped in fees that they could not pay, which would lead to bigger issues. On top of these issues, officers were mismanaged.

A lot of work was put into a plan that would help officers become better educated to protect the safety of the public. It was understood that if the plan did not pass, the city would end up in court. Ferguson is living on a small chance the Justice Department will back down. This not a good ideal to strive for, as this would set a horrible precedent for other cities all over the country. This pattern of discrimination does not just happen in Ferguson. All over the country, the criminal-justice system discriminates based on race.

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We are living in a time in which the American justice system has been devastating to families and even counterproductive in its purpose. We need to advance criminal justice and help to make positive changes that include cutting-edge policies. Some have already noticed that change needs to be made in our society. According to the Harvard Gazette, a new program was launched at the Harvard Law School with assistance from Harvard students and staff that aims to help reform the national criminal system by changing how people view it.

Political candidates running for president in this year’s election have even mentioned our broken system. Sen. Marco Rubio said on Feb. 17 that he “feels for” young black men who are targeted by police. He understands that there are communities in which police do not have a good relationship with minorities.

There is no excuse for not having a political system that protects all citizens. You should not have to be white to be treated fairly in a court of law.

Change must happen, and the officials of Ferguson should be very disappointed that they did not accept the Justice Department’s plan. They will be made an example of, because the Justice Department has officially recognized that this state of affairs is unacceptable.

We live in a world where everyone should be treated equally. It is extremely sad that we still deal with issues with race in a nation that prides itself on equality. Take a stance; reach out to local law officials and make sure that everyone is treated fairly in your community. Don’t let what happened in Ferguson happen anywhere else.

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