DOJ Files Civil Rights Suit Against Ferguson

For unconstitutional policing.

The Department of Justice is suing the city of Ferguson, Missouri for unconstitutional policing.

Attorney General Lynch and the head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division announced the legal action against Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday during a press conference.

The suit follows the breakdown of negotiations between the DOJ and the city. Lynch said the city's reluctance to sign agree to the DOJ's "requirements" left her no choice but to sue.

"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for the city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe. ... They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer."

Ferguson has been under Justice Department scrutiny since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson 18 months ago. A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.

But a scathing Justice Department report was critical of police and a profit-driven municipal court system. Following months of negotiations, an agreement between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January.

Why won't the city sign on to the DOJ offer?

A recent financial analysis determined the agreement would cost the struggling city nearly $4 million in the first year alone. The council voted 6-0 Tuesday to adopt the deal, but with seven amendments.

City officials in Ferguson said they were willing to sit down and work with the DOJ and work out something they could agree on (and afford.)

"We ask that if they (the Justice Department) feel there needs to be some additional changes to the agreement, we sit down and talk," Knowles said. Instead teh DOJ said it would take "the necessary legal actions" against the city.

Knowles said the seven amendments were formulated after the analysis showed the deal was so expensive it could lead to dissolution of Ferguson. The analysis suggested that the first-year cost of the agreement would be $2.2 million to $3.7 million, with second- and third-year costs between $1.8 million and $3 million in each year.

The city of Ferguson has an operating budget of $14.5M and already has a $2.8M deficit.  The city will vote on a two tax hikes in April but even if those pass, it will not cover the cities financial distress. 

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