Ferguson Update: Government Suing Ferguson Authorities, Accusing Civil Rights Violation Towards Citizens
Feb 12, 2016 08:51 PM EST
The United States Department of Justice is issuing a lawsuit against the City of Ferguson, Missouri, for their blatant disregard for civil rights back in 2014. The 56-page long civil lawsuit calls for justice for the violations of black rights that's been ongoing for 18 months after the incident where resident Michael Brown was shot.
The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on Wednesday that the Department of filed a lawsuit against the authorities of the city of Ferguson. The suit seeks to step in the ongoing negotiations between federal and city officials regarding the "ongoing and pervasive" violations in the city, specifically towards the issue of law enforcement being used to generate revenue. "Residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights - the rights guaranteed to all Americans - for decades," she states in a press release on Wednesday, and urges that the city of Ferguson is in need of reform.
The lawsuit was filed after the Ferguson City Council voted to change a proposed consent decree aimed at the reformation of the police department and municipal courts. The consent decree was proposed after the initial investigation regarding the shooting of Michael Brown on August 2014, which led to the subsequent request and the publicized abuses of the citizens of Ferguson, led to negotiations between the federal and municipal authorities.
NPR states in an earlier report that this move risks having a civil lawsuit filed against the city, which would apparently be more costly than initiating the proposed reforms. This move had been met with general dismay by the Department of Justice. The original 127-page proposed agreement held guidelines for training their officers against police brutality and abuse, body cameras and an overhaul of the municipal system of Ferguson, while the amendment of the City Council dropped and changed many of the proposed measures. This includes the proposal to increase the salary of the police force, which the City Council proposed to drop due to budgeting concerns. Many concerned parties feel that the budget concerns should not have been that huge a hurdle towards implementing reform in the town.
The lawsuit claims that Ferguson authorities are abusing its citizens needlessly by engaging in unconstitutional "patterns and practices" of using force without legal justification and "engaging in racially discriminatory law enforcement conduct." And while the suit acknowledges the reforms and improvements since the Justice Department's investigations, it states that they are insufficient in regards to full reform and prevention of these practices. The full lawsuit is available to the public and can be viewed via DocumentCloud.
The lawsuit lists down some of its claims on page 3, with "conducting stops and searches, issuing citations and "stop orders," making arrests, and using excessive force without legal justification in violation of the Fourth Amendment;" among the accusations. "The city of Ferguson had a real opportunity here to step forward, and instead they've turned backwards," Ms. Lynch said, regarding the lawsuit. "They've chosen to live in the past."