BLACK VOICES

How Ferguson's Legal System Echoes An Ugly Past

FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 19:  Police arrest a demonstrator protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 19, 2014 i
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 19: Police arrest a demonstrator protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Despite the Brown family's continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In 2012, a 32-year-old black man named Michael was sitting in his car in Ferguson, Missouri, cooling off after playing basketball, when a police officer accused him of being a pedophile stalking children in the adjacent park. When he objected, according to a recent Justice Department report, he was arrested at gunpoint and charged with eight violations of the city’s municipal laws, one of which was giving his name as “Mike” instead of “Michael.”

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