U.S. Police: Broken Windows Neoliberalism

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The 2014 uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri following the killing of 18-year old Michael Brown illuminated a sinister pattern of policing. In 2013, the city of Ferguson issued the highest numbers of warrants in the state relative to the size of its municipality. Home to just over 21,000 people, issued over 24,000 warrants in one year. The disproportionality resulted from vigilant policing around crimes of poverty, more often traffic violations such as driving with a suspended license, expired registration, or without proof of insurance. When drivers did not or could not pay their traffic tickets and subsequently failed to show up for court dates, municipal courts transformed these unpaid tickets into warrants. In this period, over 9,000 warrants were issued for missed court appearances or unpaid (or partially paid) fines; an unsurprising fact given that fines and subsequent fees often constituted more than many residents’ monthly income.