If media reports are true, the Ferguson police department, where white officer Darren Wilson worked when he shot and killed unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown last August, must make in-house changes or face a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice for racially discriminatory practices.
The Justice Department, at the behest of attorney general Eric Holder, investigated the suburban St. Louis police department and Holder had said in a speech this week that he expected the findings to be announced before he officially steps down from the position. CNN reported that Wilson will not be charged in the shooting, but that the Department of Justice will outline allegations of Ferguson police discriminatory tactics.
If the Ferguson police force does not agree to review the findings and make changes, the Justice Department would file lawsuit, CNN reported.
This news is not the home run protesters over six months sought—they want Wilson held accountable for Brown’s death. But Brown’s killing exposed discriminatory practices in arresting Blacks and in hiring practices within the department, so the Justice Department’s edict forces change that could create an improved standard of living for Ferguson citizens over time.
Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury last year, incensing African-Americans across the country who believed the decision sent a message that Black males could be shot on the street with no repercussions. Protests, primarily peaceful, around the country have been consistent.
In Ferguson, a memorial on Canfield Drive, where Brown was gunned down in the middle of the afternoon, remains in place. In the six months since it was created, it’s been as much a reminder of the horrific events on August 9 as it has been a memorial to the 18-year-old.
There have been reports that police trampled the site, which was laden with flowers, and even allowed police dogs to urinate on it. Once, the memorial was set afire by unknown persons and turned into ash. But the people in Ferguson resurrected the
memorial, a reflection of their insistence on justice.
The Black Lives Matter campaign persists across the country, with rallies sparked by Brown’s shooting and the deaths of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley in New York, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Rumain Brison in Phoenix, Jerame Reid in Bridgeton, N.J. and others killed at the hands of police officers.
In Ferguson, CNN said the potential Justice Department lawsuit could include allegations that police targeted minorities in issuing minor traffic infractions and then jailed them if they could not pay the fines.
It also reported the agency would seek court supervision of changes taken by Ferguson police to improve its dealings with Blacks and others. The statistics bear out the racial disparities in law enforcement. Police were 21 times more likely to shoot and kill Black teens than white teens between 2010 and 2012, according to a ProPublica analysis based on limited FBI data.