Ferguson Report Prompts Resignations, Court Takeover

Tierney Sneed, US News, March 11, 2015

The effects of a damning Justice Department report on the racially biased and exploitative practices of local authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, are being felt in the St. Louis suburb.

Both the Ferguson city manager, John Shaw, and municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer have stepped down this week in the wake of the federal investigation. Meanwhile, the Missouri Supreme Court has assigned all local municipal court cases to an appellate judge “to help restore public trust and confidence in the Ferguson municipal court division,” a release announcing the move said.

Two police supervisors, Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd, also resigned last week after the report, released Wednesday, brought to light emails containing racist jokes.


Among the issues identified in the report was a disproportionate amount of African-Americans targeted for traffic stops and other low-level violations. It said that police relied too heavily on the use of force and were quick to escalate confrontations with citizens, and also found that citizens often were denied their due-process rights in the local jail system and in how the municipal courts processed citations. Fueling the fire, the Justice Department said, was the city’s dependence on fines for minor offenses to fill municipal coffers.

Brockmeyer was called out by name in the report for his role in using fees to garner revenues, through tactics the report said are “widely considered abusive and may be unlawful.” The report also suggested he often overlooked pertinent information, such as criminal histories or a person’s ability to pay, when levying penalties on Ferguson residents, and that he dismissed tickets for his colleagues. {snip}

In his resignation letter, Shaw distanced himself from the allegations in the Justice Department report, but said stepping aside was “in the community’s best interest.”



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