I have continued to do research into the troubles in Ferguson, MO and found this to be rather disturbing. First of all, this article: Ferguson's Shameful Legal Shakedown. Second, their budget (look at page 72). Their "Fines and Public Safety" compose 21.8% of their projected budget for the year. When you derive that much of your budget from penalizing your citizens, you look to do anything to keep that "revenue stream" going. The fact of the matter is, I now understand why the citizens revolted. When you have a court system that adjudicates your guilt up to 30 minutes before you are told to be there and they lock the doors before the court finishes so you can't get in if you are the tiniest bit behind schedule, I see why the people are frustrated. The racism stated in the article looks to be pretty rampant.
The immediate explanation is that the bulk of the cases arise from car stops. The ArchCity Defenders report notes: “Whites comprise 29% of the population of Ferguson but just 12.7% of vehicle stops. After being stopped in Ferguson, blacks are almost twice as likely as whites to be searched (12.1% vs. 6.9%) and twice as likely to be arrested (10.4% vs. 5.2%).” [...] “Searches of black individuals result in discovery of contraband only 21.7% of the time, while similar searches of whites produce contraband 34.0% of the time.”
So, the disproportion is way against Blacks. They are more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested than Whites. The telling part is the Whites are 50% more likely to be carrying contraband than Blacks, which makes it more disproportionate by a factor of four. The sad part about it is, most of the people the city is stealing from are ones without the means to pay the fines. Here you go, if you want to see what a Police State looks like, places like Ferguson are where these mind sets of those in power get started. You legislate laws like you are on a commission basis, making hundreds of piddling little misdemeanors that you strictly enforce on your population. You then create a bureaucracy that is impossible to navigate without stepping on at least one land mine. The end result is a populace that is in a constant state of terror from the Police. Look at how well the Soviet bloc was run back during the Cold War. The only difference between them and us, we don't have a "Secret Police." Yet.