Two Ferguson Police Department supervisors, Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd, quit Thursday, and a third employee, Mary Ann Twitty, clerk of the Municipal Court, was fired Wednesday for her role in the emails.
Two police supervisors in Ferguson, Mo., have resigned after being linked to racist emails turned up by a Justice Department investigation, city officials said Friday.
The two supervisors, Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd, quit the force Thursday, the city’s information office said. A third employee, Mary Ann Twitty, clerk of the Municipal Court, was fired Wednesday for her role in the emails.
Officials did not say whether any of the three wrote the emails or whether other employees were involved in writing or forwarding them.
In a scathing report released Wednesday, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division described the Ferguson police and Municipal Court as a system whose primary function was to make poor black people pay as many fines and fees as possible for petty offenses, real or invented. The department called the city’s system and some of its people racially discriminatory, and the police brutal.
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Though not identified by name, a court clerk was mentioned in the Justice Department report as routinely dismissing tickets for friends. “Your ticket of $200 has magically disappeared!” read one email from the clerk to a friend. “It’s gone baby!” the clerk wrote to another.
Investigators reported they had found racist jokes and comments in email exchanges among police and court supervisors, but did not identify them or say how many people were involved. The report cited a handful of the emails, but said there were many more.
“Our investigation has not revealed any indication that any officer or court clerk engaged in these communications was ever disciplined,” the report said. “Nor did we see a single instance in which a police or court recipient of such an email asked that the sender refrain from sending such emails, or any indication that these emails were reported as inappropriate. Instead, the emails were usually forwarded along to others.”
One of the messages said President Obama would not be in the White House for long, because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” Another email depicted the president as a chimpanzee, and one contained a picture of bare-chested African women, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.”
In other Ferguson-related news Friday:
Police shooting: President Obama said he stood by the Justice Department’s decision not to file charges against former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the fatal shooting last summer of Michael Brown, 18, who was black.
The officer, “like anyone else who is charged with a crime, benefits from due process and a reasonable-doubt standard,” the president said at a town-hall meeting in South Carolina. “If there is uncertainty about what happened, then you can’t just charge him anyway because what happened was tragic.”
Discrimination: At the town-hall meeting at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., Obama did embrace the Justice Department report that found that the Ferguson Police Department had engaged in practices that added up to systematic discrimination against African Americans. “The city of Ferguson has a choice to make,” Obama said: It should “fix what is clearly a broken and racially biased system” or face a federal lawsuit.
Although Obama said he didn’t think what happened in Ferguson was typical of the rest of the country, he added that it wasn’t an isolated incident, either.
He spoke on the eve of the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when police beat scores of people who were marching from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, the Alabama capital, to protest their lack of voting rights.
The violent images broadcast on national television helped lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.