Attorney General threatens to dismantle Ferguson Police Dept. if no racism reform

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has threatened to dismantle Ferguson’s police department to force through reforms after a damning report found widespread racism in the force.

Holder told reporters that the Justice Department is ‘prepared to use all the power that we have’ to push through change in the beleaguered Missouri force, which was castigated nationwide over the killing of Michael Brown.

The threat follows the publication of a report which showed officers swapping racist emails, as well as finding that 93 per cent of all arrests in the town, and most uses of excessive force were directed at the African American population.

President Barack Obama has called the policing in Ferguson ‘broken and racially biased’ which requires a ‘fix’ from the federal government.

Holder, speaking today in Maryland in front of Air Force One, told reporters that Justice Department plans include ‘everything from working with them to coming up with an entirely new structure’.

When asked if that meant dismantling the force and starting over, he said: ‘If that’s what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that.’

He seized in particular on parts of the report showing that Ferguson police overwhelmingly issued fines for offenses like traffic violations and speeding to African Americans – seemingly in an attempt to bolster the city’s revenues.

Holder said: ‘The notion that you would use a law enforcement agency or law enforcement generally to generate revenue, and then the callous way in which that was done and the impact that it had on the lives of the ordinary citizens of that municipality, was just appalling. Appalling.

‘And that is not something that we’re going to tolerate.’

However, Ferguson’s mayor countered Holder’s threats with a warning that some measures would be an ‘overreach’ of executive power, and insisting that the city would not comply unless there was ‘mutual satisfaction’.

Civil rights lawyers have previously said the county could absorb the functions of the Ferguson Police Department.

The Justice Department issued a report this week that found that police in Ferguson created a ‘toxic’ environment with its policing practices.

That culture of distrust erupted in August, when white Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed. The incident triggered months of protest and a national debate about race and police behavior.

Holder also said President Barack Obama’s task force on policing will issue guidelines to address jailing citizens who owe money to the city, a practice used in Ferguson.

But he noted that the federal government does not have the authority to demand such a change of local governments.

Ferguson city officials will meet with the Justice Department in about two weeks to begin negotiating an agreement on reforms, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said.

If the two parties cannot reach a consensus, the Justice Department can sue and force reform.

Knowles said on Friday that the city would not settle with the Justice Department if the negotiations do not lead to ‘mutual satisfaction’.

‘There are a lot of things in that report that are very troubling and need to be addressed, but there are also things that are an overreach,’ Knowles said.

Source: The DailyMail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top