UPDATED: Friday, March 18, 2016 2:00 PM EST
Ferguson and the Justice Department jointly and officially filed an agreement Thursday that resolves the United States’ pending lawsuit against the Missouri city thrust into the spotlight after the shooting of Michael Brown Jr. in 2014.
“The American people must be able to trust that their courts and law enforcement will uphold, protect, and defend their constitutional rights,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “The filing of this agreement marks the beginning of a process that the citizens of Ferguson have long awaited – the process of ensuring that they receive the rights and protections guaranteed to every American under the law.”
The agreement will overhaul the city’s municipal court system and police department. A DOJ investigation revealed both the courts and the department engaged in racially biased practices that disenfranchised the city’s Black community.
Ferguson will implement reforms to bring about constitutional and effective policing, promote officer and public safety, ensure fundamental fairness and equal treatment regardless of race in the municipal court and foster greater trust between police officers and the communities they serve.
You can see a full list of the areas covered by the agreement, here.
The city of Ferguson, Mo. has approved a deal with the federal government to revamp the court and law enforcement system after the area was exposed by the Department of Justice for using people of color as profit in its policing methods.
The 6-to-0 vote was finalized at the Ferguson City Council meeting Tuesday evening, The New York Times reports. The deal with the federal government is sure to enact several changes, such as reforms in the criminal justice system and improved relations between residents and the police. The Department of Justice’s investigation of the city came in the wake of unrest when former police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August 2014.
During the investigation last year, the DOJ determined the city used predominately Black neighborhoods as profit centers of sorts, viewing the areas as “potential offenders and sources of revenue.” Emails from town officials supported the racial bias against Black residents.
Activists and Michael Brown Sr. were pleased with the vote. Brown Sr. embraced Mayor James Knowles III with thanks and relief that actual change was coming, nearly two years after his son’s death.
Via The Times:
“It’s beautiful,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “It’s a good feeling. It let me know that, at the end of the day, you still have to make choices, and hopefully they’re the good choices.”
“The federal government now, and their monitor will oversee and watch and report back on the progress we’ve made,” Mr. Knowles said in an interview. “This is no longer me sitting at a meeting saying, ‘Look at all the stuff we did,’ and people saying, ‘Ah, you’re lying.’ That will really help us get past that level of distrust.”
Reforms include policies on stun guns, fleeing suspects in moving vehicles, and new standards for searches during routine stops. An independent monitor will also be employed to ensure the new standards are enacted.
Council members were previously worried that vast adjustments to the system would send them into bankruptcy. As a measure to avoid the crisis, a tax increase will be added to the city’s ballot in April.
SOURCE: New York Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform