The city of Ferguson was hit with a civil right lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice after officials rejected a deal to overhaul its criminal justice system and address police misconduct. The Justice Department made an announcement on Wednesday, with the suit appearing to be aimed at pushing officials into securing a new agreement.
In the year and a half since the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the Justice Department states that Black residents in the city are still facing injustices and violation of their civil rights.
From the Justice Department‘s press team:
“Today, the Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, alleging a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the Constitution and federal civil rights laws,” said Attorney General Lynch. “The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe. They have waited nearly a year for their police department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights and that thousands of other police departments follow every day. They have waited nearly a year for their municipal courts to commit to basic, reasonable rules and standards. But residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights – the rights guaranteed to all Americans – for decades. They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.”
“Our investigation found that Ferguson’s policing and municipal court practices violate the Constitution, erode trust and undermine public safety,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “As shown by our lawsuit today, the Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law to ensure that Ferguson implements long-overdue reforms necessary to create constitutional, effective and accountable policing. Ferguson residents and police officers deserve a law enforcement system that productively and fairly serves the entire community.”
The lawsuit was launched one day after the city rejected a tentative agreement, and is just one step in what is expected to be a lengthy legal battle. The filing also follows an investigation the DOJ made of the city’s police force and municipal court by its Civil Rights Divison.
The DOJ alleges in its complaint that from October 2012 to October 2014, Black residents were more than twice as likely to be searched, get ticketed, or arrested than any other group.
Watch a clip of Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch’s announcement below.
Photo: screen cap