Anyone who has been following the Ferguson protest has probably heard of the past difficulties that the Ferguson PD has had in dealings with the African American community. Jen Hayden wrote Ferguson police beat a man and then charged him with 'destruction of property' for bloody uniforms about the case where a black man was charged with damage to police property because his blood landed on their uniforms while they were beating him. The charges were later denied by the officers in depositions for the lawsuit that Mr Davis filed against the police department.
Mr. Holder and top Justice Department officials were weighing whether to open a broader civil rights investigation to look at Ferguson’s police practices at large, according to law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal talks. The issue came up after news reports revealed a 2009 case in which a man said that four police officers beat him, then charged him with damaging government property — by getting blood on their uniforms.My hope is that he will extend the investigation, not only to the Ferguson PD, but to the St. Louis County Police Department as well. And when they do, that they learn all about the experiences of Sgt. Daniel O'Neil.
Under Mr. Holder, the Justice Department has opened nearly two dozen such investigations into police departments nationwide, more than twice as many as were opened in the previous five years, according to department data.
Sgt. Daniel O'Neil spent over 30 years in law enforcement, twenty of them with the County of St. Louis. Clearly a decent man, he felt it necessary to report the racist orders that Lieutenant Hayes gave to officers in his precinct during 2012.
Hayes, O’Neil alleges in the suit, “ordered and directed police officers at the South County Precinct to stop, detain, and/or arrest African-Americans who were at the South County Mall or who were seen exiting off Highway 55 near the mall.”Rachel Maddow reported on this officer on August 12th. There is video at her show's website, but I can't seem to embed it here.
In addition, “Hayes made numerous statements that directed officers to specifically target African-Americans for arrest, and without probable cause to do so.”
Sgt. O'Neil wrote anonymous letters to officers higher up in the chain of command, and an investigation into Lt Hayes was initiated. According to Rachel Maddow, nine officers confirmed the racist comments that were made by Hayes. Some of the alleged statements included, "Let's have a black day," and "Let's make the jail cells more colorful."
Lt Hayes was fired on May 13, 2013, as a result of the department's internal investigation.
The story doesn't end there, however. During the investigation into Hayes' behavior, O'Neil's name was leaked and he began to face harassment from his fellow officers, including retaliatory drug testing, being written up for a typographic error on a report, re-assigned to a district three times as far as the one he worked at before, and the removal of his squad car from his home. He was also warned by his superior that there was a "target on his back."
In November, 2013, Sgt. O'Neil filed suit against the County of St. Louis for damages due to the police department's Retaliation in Violation of Missouri Human Rights Act.
For a more complete look at this important story, please see Eric Nelson's 8/14/14, diary, "Post Racial" America: year 2014 | 14 years of anti-racial profiling law ignored
No wonder the African American citizens in St. Louis County have no faith or trust in the law enforcement community. Nothing would be better than to have the Department of Justice spread a little sunshine into the murky pit of the institutionalized racism of the St. Louis County Police.
Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 9:59 PM PT: From poco in the comments, here is a link to the petition to have a Special Prosecutor appointed in the Michael Brown case. As poco wrote, "The ongoing and persistent and pernicious racism is beyond sickening."