Emanuel Cleaver says he gets it.
Years of heavy-handed police tactics in Ferguson — like the issuing of lots of petty traffic citations aimed more at boosting the city budget than keeping the streets safe — have beaten down the citizenry of Ferguson.
Cleaver, a Democratic congressman from Kansas City, called it “taxation by citation” and “strobe-light lynching.”
Citizens have tuned out of the election process as a result, Cleaver said during a visit to the troubled city Saturday as part of a delegation from the Congressional Black Caucus.
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The visit was aimed at boosting turnout in Tuesday’s municipal elections, the first since a Ferguson police officer shot Michael Brown to death last summer.
“If we are successful on Tuesday, then what it will do is create in many of the people the we-can-do attitude … You can change who the mayor is, you can decide who the police chief is or who the city manager is, and you can decide on the culture you want in the police department,” Cleaver said, as reported by St. Louis Public Radio.
“And when people see that, they’ll never go back to the old days (of political inaction). So that’s why Tuesday’s important, because the future depends on the strength the African American community demonstrates at the polls on Tuesday.”
Eight candidates are running for three city council positions in Ferguson. Of the eight, four are African American.
Cleaver predicted that one or two of the black candidates will be elected.