Two weeks ago, Ferguson officials and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they’d come to an amicable deal over police reform, which would bring law enforcement in the Missouri city more in line with the constitution and avoid a lengthy battle in court. So much for all that: after Ferguson welched on the deal this week, the DOJ announced its plans to sue.
The two sides previously reached an agreement for reform based on the DOJ’s findings that civil rights abuses by Ferguson police were rampant. According to the terms of the agreement, cops would stop practices like making warrantless arrests, and the city would repeal a jaywalking ordinance that was used overwhelmingly to target black people for fines, among other changes. But Ferguson’s City Council unanimously voted to reject the agreement, which they saw as prohibitively expensive.
The people of Ferguson “should not be forced to wait any longer for justice,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press conference this afternoon about the lawsuit the DOJ filed in response. The suit, filed today alleges that Ferguson cops used excessive force without justification and engaged in “racially discriminatory law enforcement conduct,” the Washington Post reports.
As you can imagine, going to court against the full legal might of the U.S. government can get pretty expensive. If council members were worried about the price tag of complying with the federal reforms, I wonder what they think about what it will cost to fight them.