Racial tension is at a high in the United States with no release in sight. Many feel they may log on to any social media platform and witness a public execution of someone in the black or brown community, or they may see a video demonstrating excessive force or unnecessary violence by the hand of an officer. Either way, these tales often end in misconduct charges for officers and a hefty bill for taxpayers.
On Wednesday, June 27, the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), an organization working to define ties between Wall Street and its negative economic impact on communities of color, released a report entitled "Police Brutality Bonds: How Wall Street Profits from Police Violence." The document details the burden placed on taxpayers whenever police misconduct charges lead to court-ordered fees and the profit bank investors make from subsequent interest fees.
The report delves into the finances of five cities: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Lake County, Indiana. Within these cities, misconduct charges proved to be experiencing an exponential increase, and with it, so was city debt.
According to the ACRE, in the U.S., cities issue bonds to pay debts from misconduct charges to banks and firms. These banks collect fees, and investors collect interest. Therefore, the money spent paying expenses from crimes against minority communities are not only paid for but profited from because using bonds to pay settlements can sometimes even double the cost of the original price, the ACRE reported.
And who pays for the brunt of these costs? Taxpayers.
“Some of our nation’s largest corporate entities have made $1 billion in profits off of police violence,” Maurice BP-Weeks, co-executive director of the ACRE, said in a statement.
“It is estimated that the City of Chicago has spent over $800 million on police-related settlements since 2004 and borrowed hundreds of millions using police brutality bonds to make payments,” Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said. “While banks profit from racist policing, our communities face record school closures, crumbling infrastructure and lack of access to social services. We need a Chicago that invests in our black and brown communities and holds police accountable for their crimes.”
The ACRE has crafted a petition for those who believe elected officials, cities, police and Wall Street have a duty to eliminate policies that authorize economic violence against black and brown people.
In the meantime, the ACRE’s website urges that:
“1. If cities must borrow to pay for settlements and judgments, banks and investors should not be allowed to profit from that.
2. Police officers must be forced to take out individual liability insurance policies to cover the costs of settlements and judgments caused by their misconduct.
3. Governmental bodies at the local, state and federal levels must account for and provide full transparency about which officers are behaving in ways that lead to settlements and judgments, how they are or are not being held accountable, who is paying for their misconduct and how, and who is profiting from these payments.”