Protests continue in Ferguson and other cities around the nation to mark the one year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. In the meantime as I predicted, the city of Ferguson is financially sinking. Revenues have declined to the point that the city’s deficit has grown to 3.2 million.
The city was already in financial decline due to the 2008 crisis. Now it has ballooned because the rioters have devastated the city’s businesses. As a result of the looting, vandalizing and burning of businesses, many of those businesses have disappeared. They have not been rebuilt or opened which makes the black community poorer.
Brian Fletcher, a city councilman, summed it up nicely when he said, “People have seen the images of a city out of control…It has been damaging to the economy.” Fletcher pointed out that since revenues are down, the city will have to lay off employees. Slated to be cut will be police officers. The police department comprises about 60% of the city’s budget. Yet the police force is also responsible for bringing in a major portion of the city’s fiancés through traffic tickets and fines. This is no longer possible because the Missouri state legislature passed a law that sharply limits the revenue a municipality can collect from traffic tickets and fines. It is a death sentence for the city.
With declining revenues and a smaller police force, the city is on the path to becoming another Detroit. Younger officers will seek employment in other police departments to escape the job cuts and the danger of fewer police officers to support each other in emergencies. This will give a green light to the drug gangs and other criminals that they can act with impunity because the police force will be stretched thin. Crime and murders will increase and the black community will then feel the pain of a “wild west” situation with shootouts in the streets being common.
It will be a long, long time before Ferguson recovers financially. Economic shortfalls in revenue will continue. People who are unemployed, and the black community’s rate of unemployment is extremely high, will become dependent upon the city and state for entitlements and financial aid. It will become a vicious cycle of a descent into a financial abyss. Neighborhoods will decay as people try to escape the continuing violence that will overwhelm the ability of the police to contain and prevent crime. Like the city of Baltimore the Ferguson black community wants less of a police presence. They will get it and regret it. The black citizens of Ferguson will get poorer and poorer and wonder why they are cursed with poverty. They will never admit that their actions created their poverty and crime rate. Instead, they will seek to blame outside factors and people for their plight. The black community will reap what they sowed. I know because it happened in my community.