“The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference.
She said the agreement that was decided upon had been painstakingly negotiated and Ferguson officials knew that rejecting it would invite litigation.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ferguson officials said they wanted to negotiate further with the Justice Department over police reforms, after voting on Tuesday to amend the agreement.
Mayor James Knowles told a news conference that reforms had to be affordable and attainable. “It serves no one’s purpose for us to fail,” he said.
This is a developing story…
The U.S. Department of Justice is weighing “legal actions” against the city council in Ferguson, Missouri after legislators voted Tuesday to change certain portions of a tentative agreement to overhaul the police department and municipal court operations, according to USA Today.
The DOJ made the announcement early Wednesday after Ferguson lawmakers agreed to conditional approvals of an agreement reached with federal lawyers last month in the aftermath of the death of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown, who was shot by a White police officer in 2014.
But the council officials said they want several revisions to the agreement reached by the Justice Department and Ferguson’s lawyers after months of negotiations.
The move was rebuked by the Justice Department, which could choose to file a civil rights suit against the city to enforce the consent decree. Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department civil rights division, said in statement that the department would now take “necessary legal actions to ensure that Ferguson’s policing and court practices comply with the Constitution and relevant federal laws.”
“The Ferguson City Council has attempted to unilaterally amend the negotiated agreement,” Gupta said. “Their vote to do so creates an unnecessary delay in the essential work to bring constitutional policing to the city, and marks an unfortunate outcome for concerned community members and Ferguson police officers.”
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles and some council members expressed concerns about the costs of executing the decree, which city officials estimated could potentially cost nearly $10 million over the next three years, the report says.
SOURCE: USA Today | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform