Outrage After City of Ferguson Releases Racist Emails

At a Black Lives Matter protest in November, 2014. (Photo: sarah-ji/flickr/cc)

Outrage After City of Ferguson Releases Racist Emails

The emails show 'a deeply disturbing strain of racism that was socially acceptable among essential government employees'

Emails sent and received by Ferguson's former court clerk as well as two former supervisors in the police department offer further evidence of the systemic racism that coursed through the city where black 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by white police officer Darren Wilson last year.

The e-mails, released to The Washington Post in response to a public-records request, were referenced in a report by the U.S. Department of Justice that led to the dismissal and resignation of several senior city officials last month.

According to the Post, the messages "were sent and received by Mary Ann Twitty, who was Ferguson's court clerk, as well as former Ferguson police captain Rick Henke and former police sergeant William Mudd. All three were removed from their jobs after the Department of Justice discovered the e-mails, which prompted an internal investigation by city officials. The unredacted versions show for the first time which employee sent which e-mails."

For example, the Post reports:

Several of the e-mails focus on President Obama, and the majority of them speak disparagingly of him or minorities more broadly.

In a message dated Tuesday, April 19, 2011, Twitty forwarded a message titled "Very Rare Photo" that included an image of former president Ronald Reagan feeding a baby monkey. Beneath the photo is the caption: "Rare photo of Ronald Reagan babysitting Barack Obama in early 1962."

Responding to the revelations, journalist Shaun King wrote at Daily Kos: "What they show is a deeply disturbing strain of racism that was socially acceptable among essential government employees who not only interacted with African Americans consistently in the majority black town of Ferguson, but were in positions of power in which they could make life miserable for the people they clearly disdained."

What's more, King asked: "Why was Twitty fired, but Henke and Mudd were allowed to resign when they all three did essentially the same thing?"

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French told the Post that the full content of the emails further prove that change is needed in Ferguson.

"What it shows is that a culture existed and was allowed to fester in Ferguson municipal government and Ferguson Police Department," he said. "What we have seen so far is a few voluntary resignations but not a full acceptance of responsibility for that culture that has been allowed to exist in that municipal government. Even after the DOJ report . . . there is still a lot of work to be done and it still remains to be seen whether the people who remain in power will be the ones to make the change."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.