Federal Government Files Civil Rights Suit Against Ferguson

Michael Brown lays dead in the street after being shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Michael Brown lays dead in the street after being shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

FERGUSON, Mo. — The latest on efforts by Ferguson to reach a consent agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve police and court practices in the St. Louis suburb (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

The Justice Department has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving how police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb.

Messages seeking comment from Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III were not immediately returned.

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, a deal between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January.

A recent financial analysis determined that 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.

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4 p.m.

The Justice Department is expected to announce that it is suing the city of Ferguson, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving how police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb.

The lawsuit was confirmed by a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

Messages seeking comment from Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III were not immediately returned.

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, a deal between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January.

A recent financial analysis determined that 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.

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3 p.m.

Ferguson leaders are taking a more conciliatory tone in their comments about a proposed consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, saying they’re willing to return to the negotiating table.

The Ferguson City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve an amended version of the agreement that addresses concerns about police and municipal court practices in the St. Louis suburb. City officials say the seven changes are necessary to keep the city solvent.

Mayor James Knowles III initially told The Associated Press Wednesday that the city was laying out its offer to the federal agency, not trying to reopen negotiations. But at a news conference later in the day, Knowles and Councilman Wesley Bell said the city would be willing to sit down again with the Justice Department in hopes of reaching an agreement both sides can live with.

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11 a.m.

A former top official at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division says a lawsuit is likely unless the city of Ferguson agrees to a consent decree.

The Ferguson City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to approve the decree, but with seven changes, some of them significant.

Samuel Bagenstos, the former No. 2 official in the Civil Rights Division, says Ferguson’s insistence on changes to the settlement probably won’t pass muster with the Justice Department. He expects city leaders to reach a settlement, rather than face huge legal fees in a court battle.

Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, expressed disappointment in the vote and said the department would take “the necessary legal actions” to ensure Ferguson’s police and court practices comply with the Constitution and federal laws.

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9:25 a.m.

Ferguson’s mayor says the embattled city is not trying to reopen negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice by amending a consent decree. Lawsuit or not, Mayor James Knowles says the revised agreement is Ferguson’s best offer.

After seven months of negotiations, Ferguson and the Justice Department announced a consent agreement in January aimed at improving the St. Louis suburb’s police and court practices. On Tuesday, the Ferguson City Council voted unanimously to adopt the agreement, but with seven amendments.

Key changes approved by the city would drop a requirement for police pay raises, and include a stipulation that if another agency takes over police or other duties in the future, it would not be subject to the provisions of the settlement.

Knowles said Wednesday that the financial burden of the original agreement was simply too heavy.

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2:30 a.m.

The Ferguson City Council is asking the U.S. Department of Justice for changes to a deal to reform the city’s courts and policing systems, a move that drew swift criticism from both the department and many residents.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to amend the proposed settlement the city spent seven months negotiating with the DOJ. Several of the changes are intended to reduce the cost of implementing the agreement, which some worry could bankrupt the St. Louis suburb.

If the Justice Department doesn’t approve, a lawsuit is possible.

Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, says the department will take “the necessary legal actions” to ensure Ferguson’s police and court practices comply with the Constitution and federal laws.

The post Federal Government Files Civil Rights Suit Against Ferguson appeared first on MintPress News.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from MintPress News, and written by AP. Read the original article here.