What’s changed — and what hasn’t — three years after Michael Brown’s death
On August 9, 2014, Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in the Canfield Green apartment complex. His death touched off weeks of protests, reigniting a national conversation about race and policing that continues to this day.
Closer to home, reforms have been slow to take hold, even those mandated by the federal Justice Department. The following list isn’t comprehensive, but, rather, a big-picture view of what has and hasn’t changed.
Federal consent decree
While a grand jury declined to charge Wilson in Brown’s death, the confrontation led to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Ferguson’s police department and municipal court system. That led to the implementation of a consent decree, which requires the city make hundreds of changes to the way its police force works.
- Ferguson releases draft of federal consent decree
- Ferguson in the balance: Councilmembers set to vote on consent decree
- Ferguson puts conditions on consent decree, gets angry reaction from residents
- Department of Justice sues Ferguson over civil rights violations
- Ferguson mayor: “There was no agreement with the Justice Department”
- Ferguson City Council accepts Department of Justice consent decree
- Federal judge approves Ferguson consent decree
- Round 2 for Ferguson's civilian review board
- Accountability the main concern should Ferguson’s consent decree be scuttled
- Missed deadlines in Ferguson's federal consent decree frustrate activists
Former Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson was one of six city officials who resigned or were fired in March 2015 after the Department of Justice released its report.
A national search attracted 54 candidates and led Ferguson to hire Delrish Moss, the public information officer in Miami, as its new permanent chief.
- Ferguson police chief Jackson resigns
- Ferguson taps commander from Arizona to be new interim police chief
- Ferguson interim police chief steps down, will return to Arizona position
- Ferguson picks Miami cop to be next police chief
- On the Trail: Through turmoil and chaos, Ferguson's new police chief sees opportunity
- 3 months in, Ferguson’s new police Chief Delrish Moss reflects on the job
Protesters looted and burned the QuikTrip gas station at the corner of West Florissant Avenue and Northwinds Estates Drive on August 10, 2014. But a couple of weeks ago, the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center opened at the site, tied to the start of the National Urban League’s annual conference. Built by the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Salvation Army, the center is latest example of new investment into the Ferguson area.
- Peaceful protest against police brutality turns into night of violence
- Emerson launches “Ferguson Forward” program, funds youth jobs and scholarships
- Monsanto to give $1 million to Ferguson initiatives
- Urban League breaks ground on new center in Ferguson
- Urban League gets $2 million boost for jobs center in Ferguson
- Centene opens new facility in Ferguson
- Centene’s decision to build in Ferguson: a conversation with the CEO
- Ferguson community center opens at site of QuikTrip burned in 2014 protests
- After two years, are commitments turning into action in Ferguson?
- Report raises questions about Ferguson-related donations
What hasn't changed?
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III was four months into his second term when Brown’s death thrust him and his city into the brightest of spotlights.
Six city officials eventually resigned or were fired in the aftermath, but Knowles hung on, even beating out a Ferguson councilwoman to win a third term in April by 15 points.
- Ferguson mayor says he overcame obstacles to become mayor
- Amid anger over Brown’s death, structurally limited mayor vows to make changes
- Adversaries of Ferguson mayor fail to gather enough signatures to trigger recall
- On the Trail: The year-long education of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles
- Ferguson’s next mayor faces repairing the city’s reputation
- Ferguson retains Knowles as mayor for third term
- With election behind then, Knowles and Jones pledge a united front in Ferguson
The municipal courts
Despite making some of the court-ordered changes to the way it handles cases, Ferguson still faces a number of state and federal lawsuits over its municipal court’s practices, including allegations that it runs a debtor’s prison. The problem isn’t just in Ferguson, either.
“There have been some changes in Ferguson, but things aren’t fixed out there,” according to Thomas Harvey, the executive director of ArchCity Defenders, which has filed many of those lawsuits.
- Suit takes aim at 'debtors' prisons' in St. Louis County cities
- Jennings settles federal lawsuit over municipal court; voluntary reforms coming elsewhere
- Florissant is the latest city facing federal lawsuit over ‘debtors prison’ allegations
- Michael Brown’s 2014 death casts long legal shadow in Ferguson
Missouri state representatives and senators started the 2015 legislative session with plenty of ideas for policy reforms. But in the end, just one major piece of legislation passed that changed, among other things, how much money municipalities can fine people in traffic stops. The Missouri Supreme Court later threw out parts of that law.
- Lawmakers produce ideas responding to Ferguson unrest, but can they deliver?
- Missouri Senate moves forward with Ferguson-related bills, but they remained stalled in the House
- No new Ferguson bills on legislative agenda following Justice Department report
- Missouri’s legislative session ends in frustration, and unfinished business
- Missouri whiffed on a ‘Ferguson agenda,’ while other states stepped up
- On the Trail: Five takeaways from SB5, the sweeping, significant and complex municipal courts bill
- Judge deals big blow to Ferguson-inspired municipal reform
- Missouri Supreme court tosses out parts of 2015 limits on traffic fines and fees
- After state Supreme Court ruling, what’s next for municipal reform in Missouri?
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