Lessons from Ferguson

by The Baltimore Sun  |  published on February 13, 2016

There never was much doubt the federal government would sue the city of Ferguson, Mo., if it couldn’t reach an agreement with the St. Louis suburb to reform its criminal justice system. The city came under intense scrutiny by the Justice Department in 2014 after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by white police officer Darren Wilson. That incident sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and launched the Black Lives Matter movement that has become a potent force among young people across the country — and particularly here in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray.

Last week, after months of negotiations with the city, the Justice Department filed a civil rights lawsuit to force Ferguson to adopt reforms after its city council reneged on a promise to voluntarily improve the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Ferguson’s rejection of the deal left her no choice given the town’s “ongoing and pervasive” violations of residents’ rights and its misuse of the criminal justice system to generate municipal revenues.

“The city of Ferguson had a real opportunity here to step forward, and instead they’ve turned backward,” she said. “They’ve chosen to live in the past.” Among the changes the department is calling for are a prohibition against officers making arrests without probable cause, installing a federal monitor to oversee policing practices and barring officers from using stun guns as punishment. The plan also called for raising the salaries in the Ferguson police department to attract better recruits and more minority officers.

Ferguson officials claim they can’t afford the changes DOJ is demanding without bankrupting the city. The St. Louis suburb has a population of 21,000 and a total annual budget of just $14 million. A recent financial analysis found that complying with the agreement could cost the city nearly $4 million in the first year alone, and several million more in subsequent years. But if the case goes to trial, as now seems likely, Ferguson could end up paying millions to defend itself in court on top of what it would have spent had it signed off on the reforms.

  • bygeorge

    I love this line, straight out of the marxist play book on how to screw the people: “ongoing and pervasive” violations of residents’ rights and its misuse of the criminal justice system to generate municipal revenues.

    This is an attempt by Progressives to create another link in their ultimate police state.

  • SGRezabek

    I agree with ADRoberts and albertbryson. Also, Michael Brown was NOT an innocent, black baby being abused by the Ferguson police. He was an 18 yr old adult criminal, whose police records were sealed because of crimes
    he had committed as a minor. He had no intention of reforming, though;
    and he was headed full speed ahead, even as he charged the policeman who killed him in self defense. He was afraid of being arrested for the crimes he had just committed 15 minutes before he was stopped for walking in the middle of the road. The store video showed he stole merchandise and shoved the store owner. Michael Brown’s death was his own fault. Most blacks, like the insane Liberals, do not believe the truth when it is shown to them. It’s easier to continue to blame others for their own shortcomings rather than to learn to do better. Some blacks understand the truth, and do well. The POS Usurper in the White House has done more to divide the races and destroy America than anyone else in history; and he isn’t finished yet. God help us to turn things around before it’s too late.. Americans should be uniting against the Dictator in the White House instead of fighting each other; but distraction is just part of the Elite’s plan.

  • albertbryson

    No city should be subject to federal supervision of its police department as our Justice Department imposed on Ferguson. What the Justice Department wants is too expensive. We need to clean up the Justice Department to remove all the harm done to it by both Holder and Lynch.

  • ADRoberts

    Now who should I believe. A racist, marxist, appointee of the Marxist Obama, or the local citizens who run a small town on a limited budget.
    Face it. Lynch was determined to bankrupt them, just like Obama is determined to bankrupt America.
    It is what you do when you have ALL THAT HATE.

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