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Ferguson report resonates in nation

By Associated Press in Seattle | China Daily | Updated: 2015-03-10 07:56

Felix Vargas read the report by the US Department of Justice on Ferguson, Missouri, and thought some of it sounded familiar: A mostly white police department overseeing a mostly minority town; questionable uses of force; officers ill-equipped to deal with mentally ill residents.

They're the same issues his heavily Hispanic community, the agricultural city of Pasco in Washington state, has confronted since the fatal police shooting of an immigrant farmworker last month.

"We know Pasco is only the most recent area where this has happened," said Vargas, chairman of a local Hispanic business group called Consejo Latino. "We have a national problem. We continue to struggle with this issue of policing."

Ferguson has become a symbol of the tensions between minorities and police departments nationwide since Darren Wilson, a white officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, last year.

The Justice Department cleared Wilson of criminal wrongdoing, but in its report last week, it made numerous allegations against the city's police department that included racial disparities in arrests, bigotry and profit-driven law enforcement, such as using the black community to support the city's budget through fines.

Residents in some communities across the US say they face the same struggles with their police departments and city leadership.

On Saturday, protesters took to the streets in Madison, Wisconsin, after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 19-year-old by a white police officer, chanting "Black lives matter." Authorities said the police officer fired his weapon after he was assaulted.

"These communities are vulnerable because they don't believe the law is there to protect them," said Kevin Jones, a black 36-year-old Iraq War veteran who lives in Saginaw, Michigan, a once-predominantly white city that's now about half-black. He recalled being pulled over and arrested in 2011 for having his music too loud in the wrong part of town. The noise complaint was dropped when the officer failed to show for his hearing, but Jones said he still had to pay to get his car back.

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