The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the city of Ferguson, Missouri, in a bid to force police reforms in the city in wake of the August 2015 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The lawsuit comes on the heel of Ferguson City Council’s vote to change the terms of a proposed consent decree to reform the criminal judicial system. The agreement, made in collaboration with the federal and local authority, took months of painstaking efforts and would have prohibited police officers from making arrests without probable causes — and rejecting it was an obvious invitation for a litigation.
The 103-page report issued in March revealed that some officers thought of the residents of black communities as “sources of revenues” and have found evidence of racial jokes by Ferguson law enforcement department.
The negotiations over the reforms to the police force began last year after the Justice Department found the Ferguson Police Department discriminated against African Americans by engaging in biased practices and using excessive force without legal justification.
"The 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," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, Wednesday. "They should not be forced to wait any longer."
She added the violations were not just “egregious, they were routine.”
The officials say the civil rights violations running unchecked in the police department stems from the Ferguson’s failure to properly train and monitor its police officers. They also added the city’s main focus on costs is the reason Ferguson officials have never tried to change policies to decrease law enforcement officers’ misconduct, which include discrimination to minorities, unconstitutional stops, unfair searches and arrests and use of force.
While the litigation acknowledges the city has made some reforms since the investigation started, they were deemed insufficient to reduce or prevent such incidences from taking place in the future.
Civil rights advocates warned that litigation with the Justice Department could cost more than implementing the agreement.
The shooting death of Michael Brown, though was considered justified by the Justice Department, galvanized protesters, helped ignite the Black Lives Matter movement and finally prompted authorities to examine police practices.
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