U.S. Department of Justice

Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
YouTube | Fair Housing conference

Updated 4:30 p.m. with comments from Civil Rights Division and react - A 20-month investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice has found the St. Louis County Family Court violates the constitutional rights of children in its custody.

Ferguson police headquarters on March 3, 2015
File photo by UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Nearly a month ago, the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report on the Ferguson Police Department. The federal Civil Rights Division found the city's "law enforcement practices were shaped by the city's focus on revenue rather than on public safety needs," causing a pattern of stops and arrests that violated the constitutional rights of the city's majority black population.

Members of the Justice Department’s civil rights team will meet with Ferguson residents Thursday night in the first of several such meetings following the release of the department’s investigative report finding patterns of racial bias in the city’s police department and municipal court.

Protests and chants came into the St. Louis County Council chambers Tuesday night.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Why did the Justice Department conclude that Michael Brown didn’t cry out “Don’t shoot” and that, if he had his hands up, it was only for a moment before he began moving back toward Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson?

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh on March 17, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French was one of the most visible people in Ferguson, the city and related social media, last summer and fall after the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Since then, French has shifted his attention back to the 21st Ward and North Campus, an education-based community program that helps parents and students. But he’s also still active in Ferguson efforts.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she learned a lot from her unsuccessful run for governor in 2004.
Sen. McCaskill's Flickr page

Ferguson may already be having an impact on how officials elsewhere respond to incidents involving racial tensions. 

That's the opinion of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that "the fact that lessons have been learned from what happened in Ferguson is a terrific legacy for this event that obviously ripped us apart in St. Louis.”

One lesson officials appear to have learned is the important of a quick, decisive response.

A police officer is silhouetted against Ferguson's police department and municipal court building, during nighttime protests on November 26, 2014.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Update 03/13/15 at 10:30 a.m.

Ron Brockmeyer has resigned as city prosecutor in Florissant and Vinita Park. He had earlier resigned from the municipal judge post in Ferguson and as prosecutor in Dellwood. Florissant Mayor Thomas Schneider praised Brockmeyer's "efficient service," saying in a statement that "his unselfish resignation will enable our elected municipal judge, Dan Boyle, to continue the work he began after his election in April 2011 to streamline and improve Florissant’s judicial process to make it even more fair, effective and efficient."

Ferguson police headquarters on March 3, 2015
File photo by UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The Ferguson police department is likely facing stricter federal oversight of its police department after a scathing report from the U.S. Department of Justice found its officers deliberately violated the rights of African Americans. Bringing a department into compliance with a federal consent decree can be an expensive proposition.

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

The Ferguson police department and municipal court engaged in such a widespread pattern of unconstitutional conduct that it lost the trust of the people, the Justice Department concluded after a seven-month investigation.

Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Seven months after Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, the U.S. Department of Justice today released two investigations - one that cleared Wilson and the other that accused Ferguson police and courts of violating constitutional rights.

Michael Brown's Normandy High School graduation photo
Provided by UPI

(Updated at 7:30 p.m. with comments from St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch)

The U.S. Justice Department’s report into the fatal of shooting of Michael Brown by then-police officer Darren Wilson makes two basic findings: investigators were not convinced that Wilson committed a federal crime; and that even if they were to indict Wilson, they didn’t believe they would be able to win at trial.

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Details from a federal civil rights investigation of the Ferguson Police Department began to emerge Tuesday. Reports say the Department of Justice's six-month investigation found Ferguson police violated the U.S. Constitution and were racially biased in their practices.

Ferguson Commission co-chairman, the Rev. Starsky Wilson said what’s being reported on the investigation is expected.  

Darren Wilson
Undated video grab

The New York Times is reporting that the Department of Justice is preparing a "legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson," in the shooting death of Michael Brown. The Times report did not say when the memo would be released, but it has been widely reported that Attorney General Eric Holder wanted a resolution to the case before his departure.

Wikipedia

Top commanders from four area law enforcement agencies along with a handful of community members are wrapping up two days of training in fair and impartial policing today. 

The training comes as part of the Justice Department’s collaborative review initiative and technical assistance in St. Louis County. Departments participating in the training include St. Louis County, St. Louis Metropolitan, Ferguson and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, left, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Attorney General Eric Holder met on Wednesday to talk about the killing of Michael Brown.
Provided by the office of Rep. Clay

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, has asked the Justice Department to investigate municipal courts in St. Louis and St. Louis County.  

In his letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Clay wrote that “the court system operates mostly as a revenue source for the state and county, with little oversight.”

Emanuele Berry|St. Louis Public Radio

At Ferguson's second town hall meetings Tuesday evening, the issue was communication between Ferguson residents and leaders.

Chris LaPorta, a resident who attended the meeting, said afterward that those in attendance discussed how the city shares information with the community.

“Many of the folks have said they don’t have Twitter, they don’t have Facebook and they really need some other way to get their information,” LaPorta said.

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

When 250 Ferguson residents met with the Justice Department last week, many of them made it abundantly clear that they wanted the government to arrest and indict Officer Darren Wilson and to investigate St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.

Over grumbles from the audience, Justice Department lawyers politely explained they could promise none of these things.

Eric Holder, when his appointment was announced
Wikipedia

Almost a year before Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, laying bare a raw nerve of distrust and hostility between the city’s black residents and its almost exclusively white police force, Attorney General Eric Holder stood before an international gathering of police chiefs in Philadelphia and said it was time to bridge the divide between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

James Cridland via Flickr

Legal questions surrounding Michael Brown’s death and events in Ferguson again dominated the conversation among our legal roundtable.

Justice Department Investigations

The Justice Department has three roles in Ferguson, said William Freivogel, director of the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. First: A criminal investigation, independent of the state’s investigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder visited Ferguson Aug. 20.
Office of U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay

Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that his conversations with residents of Ferguson during his visit two weeks ago influenced his decision to investigate the city’s police department.

Holder says he heard directly from residents and listening sessions “about the deep mistrust that has taken hold between law enforcement officials and members of the community. ... People consistently expressed concerns stemming from specific alleged incidents, from general policing practices, and from the lack of diversity on Ferguson’s police force.”

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