Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Case for Reparations

The Department of Justice report indicates that the Ferguson city government deployed its police forces to extort money from its black citizens. Over the years, millions of dollars in fines were collected through the unequal administration of justice. Court records indicate exactly how much money was extorted from specific citizens.

And what happened in Ferguson, happened in numerous other municipalities in St. Louis County, all of which was equally unconstitutional and equally documented.

The people from whom those dollars were taken are owed them. All of the dubious charges, all of the fines, all of the fines levied because the original fines were not paid on time, all the penalties and interest and court fees need to be returned. Not as a matter of "development funds" or "community investment" or "public policy", but simply because stolen money must be returned from the criminal to the victim, to be used by victims for whatever purpose they choose. It's their money, end of story.

In most states, local governments are the legal creatures of the state government. What level of government chartered the little town of Ferguson, gave it permission to collect taxes, hire police, and set up a court? That level of government owes the people of Ferguson their money back. The city government of Ferguson, and all the other similar towns, need to be put out of business and the reparations they owe their victims (and their heirs) need to be assumed by the state of Missouri. New local governments need to be established that are rationally sized, democratic and constitutional in their place. Call it another Reconstruction. Call it Reparations. Call it Justice and Accountability.

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