NAACP President Compares Ferguson Public Officials to 'Roaches'

By Susan Jones | March 12, 2015 | 6:47am EDT

Cornell William Brooks has served as president of the NAACP since May 2014.

( - Shortly after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announced his resignation on Wednesday, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said he viewed it as "a validation, certainly not a victory."

"The fact is that the Department of Justice uncovered an unholy trinity between the Ferguson Police Department, the municipal court and city hall. And the fact you have these resignations indicates that these public officials are reacting to the Department of Justice report the way roaches react to light.

"That is to say, they are running for cover. And that's a good thing, because that department needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up. We need to create a culture of accountability," Brooks told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

The interview took place after Jackson resigned but before two Ferguson police officers were shot and seriously wounded at the end of a Wednesday night protest outside the Ferguson Police Department.

Although the U.S. Justice Department found no "prosecutable conduct on the part of Darren Wilson" in connection with Michael Brown's death, it did find "a pattern or practice of racial bias" in both the Ferguson Police Department and the municipal court.

Among other problems, the Justice Department said Ferguson’s law enforcement practices "are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs." Writing tickets for "minor offenses" to generate revenue imposes "particular hardship on Ferguson's most vulnerable residents," the report said.

On Wednesday evening, Blitzer noted that five people have now resigned or been forced out of public jobs in Ferguson -- the police chief, two police officers, the court clerk and the city manager:

"Is that enough, or do you want more?" Blitzer asked Brooks.

"The mayor needs to resign," Brooks responded.

"The fact of the matter is, the city manager worked pretty closely with the municipal court judge to impose these fines and in collusion and in collaboration with the police department, all under his watch. The fact of the matter is, we have a municipality that was acting in a rogue fashion.

"The Justice Department report demonstrates pretty clearly that this unholy trinity violated the Constitution, federal statutes, undoubtedly state laws, and preyed upon the citizenry through municipal fines that were confiscatory and discriminatory. We have a police department that engaged in excessive use of force in a racialized way.

"And we had police dogs being used on African-Americans and most notably children, all under his watch. And so the fact of the matter is, I'm not sure how you can have all these other officials resigning in the wake of this report and the mayor retain leadership and credibility. It's not plausible."

Brooks said although Officer Darren Wilson was never charged with any crime or civil rights violations, the Justice Department report does not exonerate him:

"Darren Wilson operated in the midst of a rogue police department that engaged in all matter of unconstitutional, unlawful, discriminatory conduct. And the very behavior that he was...accused of, namely using excessive force against an unarmed teenager, the report makes clear that that was a pattern and practice in the police department that he served in. And so I wouldn't say that this report exonerates Darren Wilson."

Blitzer also asked Brooks for his "analysis" of a police shooting in Madison, Wisconsin, where another young black man was shot and killed by a white police officer over the weekend.

The officer in that case was responding to a report of a 19-year-old man jumping in and out of traffic and assaulting someone. The shooting has prompted protests, including one on Wednesday where protesters blocked traffic and chanted, "The whole damn system is guilty as hell!"

Brooks said the Madison police shooting is part of a nationwide pattern: "The fact of the matter is, all across the country, we see this again and again, in Ferguson, in Staten Island, in Cleveland.

"There is what feels like for this generation a pandemic of police misconduct. The fact of the matter is, we know that one out of every four African-American men reports being mistreated at the hands of the police in any given month, that black men are much more likely to lose their lives at the hands of the police."

Brooks plugged "community-oriented policing," which "makes communities safer, prosecutions easier."

He also urged Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act and to establishe "a national standard with respect to the use of force."

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