Civil Rights in the Era of Trump

Jeff Sessions claimed that his honor was offended when those opposed to his nomination as Attorney General called him a racist.

One of the things we found out in the investigation into the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is that communities in red states have deliberately used minor transgressions by poor people as a municipal revenue source. Under the Obama administration, the practice was curtailed. Then came Trump, and Sessions.

“Ferguson used its criminal justice system as a for-profit enterprise, extracting millions from its poorest citizens. Internal emails revealed the head of finance directing policing strategy to maximize revenue rather than ensure public safety. Officers told us they were pressured to issue as many tickets as possible.

Even the local judge was in on it, imposing penalties of $302 for jaywalking and $531 for allowing weeds to grow in one’s yard. He issued arrest warrants for residents who fell behind on payments — including a 67-year-old woman who had been fined for a trash-removal violation — without inquiring whether they even had the ability to pay the exorbitant amounts. The arrests resulted in new charges, more fees and the suspension of driver’s licenses. These burdens fell disproportionately on African-Americans.

The Obama era guidance has been reversed by Sessions, and it’s open season on poor people again. Hardly sounds like “justice” to me. Question for Trump and Sessions: have you no shame?

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