U.S. Department of Justice | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Justice attorney Jude Volek, center, listens to activists in the Ferguson community June 22, 2017 after an update on the progress Ferguson is making on mandated changes to its police and courts.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time since it was adopted, Ferguson residents and activists got a chance Thursday to give their take on how the city is doing at making federally mandated changes to its municipal court and police department.

Everyone who spoke appreciated the opportunity to weigh in, but the reviews given to U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry were decidedly mixed. 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to law enforcement officials Friday morning at the Thomas Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. (March 31, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Pledging money, research and expertise for local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought a face to the Trump administration’s pro-police message during a speech Friday in St. Louis.

He also made general mention of the 2014 unrest in Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white officer, and the tensions between police and African-Americans.

Ferguson Police Department
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

It's been nearly a year since the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Ferguson signed a consent decree to reform the city's police department and municipal courts. And both sides acknowledged Wednesday that they aren't as far along as they should be.

Ferguson Police Department
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In September 2016, the city of Ferguson seemed to be floundering in its efforts to comply with a federal civil rights consent decree.

"We are not where we had hoped to be," said Justice Department attorney Christy Lopez said at the time. "Certainly, some deadlines have passed." 

But at a hearing Tuesday in front of judge Catherine Perry, the city, the Justice Department and the team overseeing the city's compliance with the decree all finally seemed to be pulling in the same direction.

Attendees for both a welcome rally for Ferguson's new police chief, Delrish Moss, and a protest against the city's attorney, Stephanie Karr, demonstrate outside the Ferguson Police Department on May 9, 2016.
File photo Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The team in charge of making sure that the city of Ferguson is complying with a federal consent decree will be in St. Louis on Wednesday to hear from the community.

Clark Ervin will meet as many individuals and groups as he can on Wednesday. The 15-minute meetings will take place between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and can be scheduled by emailing Ervin at clark.ervin@squirepb.com.

Activists continue to demonstrate against city attorney Stephanie Karr as a police vehicle idles in front of them near Karr's home on Wesley Avenue Monday evening.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

People calling for the ouster of Ferguson city attorney Stephanie Karr chanted and carried signs in a protest that wound its way from the police department to Karr’s house Monday evening.

It was the very first day on the job for new police chief Delrish Moss. But it wasn't the first time Karr has been the subject of controversy.

The Justice Department slapped the city of Ferguson, Mo., with a civil rights lawsuit this week after the City Council voted to change a proposed settlement agreement to reform the police and courts.

When Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the suit on Wednesday, she said Ferguson police disproportionately targeted black people for traffic stops, use of force and jail sentences.

Organization for Black Struggle members organize activists and Ferguson residents into a group outside the Ferguson Police Department Thurs Dec. 3, 2015 to call for public input in the city's consent decree.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As negotiations to reform the Ferguson Police Department continue between the city of Ferguson and the U.S. Department of Justice, a group of Ferguson residents spearheaded by the Organization for Black Struggle says it’s concerned that the taxpayers and community members don’t know the details of those negotiations.

The group, known as the Ferguson Collaborative, wants community stakeholders to be able to weigh in at a public “fairness hearing” before a judge signs off on the consent decree.

Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis
Jim Howard / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is not alone in confronting an increase in violent crime, but what little comfort that may provide city officials is tempered by the fact that there are relatively few resources readily available to help cities across the U.S. confront their own rise in gun and drug related violence.

Mayors from 20 cities along with chiefs of police, an array of federal law enforcement officials, and academics met in Washington on Wednesday for a Department of Justice sponsored summit on violent crime.  St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Police Chief Samuel Dotson, both attended the day-long session to share ideas, concerns and to make appeals to federal officials for assistance.

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 |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 |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.”

The U.S. Department of Justice will launch an investigation into police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, with a focus on looking for a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing.

Carrie says the department was holding off on announcing the investigation until clashes in the town died down:

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