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Ferguson police release racist staff emails

April 4, 2015

Officials in Ferguson have released racially charged emails exchanged between former city police employees to the public. One such email compared US President Barack Obama to a monkey.

USA Proteste vor der Polizeizentrale in Ferguson
Image: Getty Images/Michael B. Thomas

The authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, released the full content of racially and religiously insensitive emails, whose targets include President Barack Obama, sent between the city's ex-court clerk and two former police supervisors.

The emails were sent between 2008 and 2011, and were among the evidence provided by the Justice Department in their report which concluded that racism was pervasive in the Ferguson Police Department. The report followed a months-long investigation into the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, an African American, by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb on August 9.

The incident sparked months of unrest and protests (pictured above), not only in Ferguson, but across the United States.

The unredacted emails, released to the Washington Post following a public-records request, shows that the bulk of the emails were sent from Court Clerk Mary Ann Twitty to Captain Rick Henke and Sergeant William Mudd.

Twitty was fired over the emails, one of which likened black welfare recipients to mixed-breed dogs, while the two officers resigned. While most of the emails were uncensored, City Clerk Megan Asikainen told the St.Louis Post-Dispatch the names of non-city employees had been removed.

Emails target Obama, Muslims

Several of the emails focused on President Barack Obama:

Another email said that Obama would not be in office for long because "what black man holds a steady job for four years."

Other emails mocked Islam, one for example contained a joke in which a man goes to a "Muslim clothing shop" and is thrown out after asking to "look at some of the bomber jackets."

The Justice Department report, released in March, found widespread racial bias not only in Ferguson's policing, but also in the municipal court system. According to the report, profit-driven enterprises which, through a system of minor fines which often turned into unpayable sums and prison sentences due to late fees and interest, preyed upon black and low-income residents.

es/rc (AP, Reuters)