Driving While Black Has Gotten Even Worse

Four years after Ferguson, some stark data from Missouri.

A protest in April after the controversial arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.Bastiaan Slabbers / ZUMA

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There is a stark new statistic out from the office of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley: In 2017, black drivers in the state were 85 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. That’s an even greater disparity than the state AG’s office found when it gathered the same data last year—and the biggest disparity since it began analyzing traffic-stop data in 2000.

According to the report, there was also a major disparity with how black drivers are treated once they are pulled over: African Americans who were stopped were 51 percent more likely than white drivers to be searched. And Hispanic drivers were 45 percent more likely than whites to be searched.

Four years after Ferguson, these numbers suggest that the institutional discrimination that launched a national protest movement—sparked by the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown—has, if anything, deepened. And they reiterate that the phenomenon is hardly confined to just one troubled municipality; Ferguson’s racial disparity in traffic stops wasn’t even above average for Missouri last year. Of course, as my colleague Brand Patterson has recently shown, you don’t have to be in a car to come in for the driving-while-black treatment—in recent weeks, black people have had the cops called on them for everything from barbecuing at a public park to golfing too slowly.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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