(WASHINGTON POST) The Department of Justice filed a 56-page civil lawsuit Wednesday against the City of Ferguson, Mo. alleging that, 18 months after the police shooting of Michael Brown, the city’s police and court system continue to violate black residents’ civil rights.
The suit — a contentious next-step in what has been a months-long negotiation process between federal and city officials over potential reforms — says these “ongoing and pervasive” violations come from the city’s use of law enforcement to generate revenue.
“Residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights — the rights guaranteed to all Americans — for decades,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said during a news conference Wednesday. “They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.”
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, alleges that Ferguson’s police department and municipal courts engage in an unconstitutional “patterns and practices” of using force without legal justification and “engaging in racially discriminatory law enforcement conduct.”
Federal officials say the civil rights violations stem from the city’s failure to properly train and supervise its law enforcement officers, echoing the findings of the 2014 Justice Department investigation into Ferguson’s police force.
The Justice Department bluntly states in the suit that Ferguson’s focus on revenue is the reason the city’s officials have never changed politics to try and “decrease or eliminate police misconduct, including discriminatory policing, unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests, and the use of unreasonable force.”