The United States Department of Justice is preparing to bring discrimination charges against the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department in an effort to force them to change a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics. If the police department agrees to make changes on its own then the lawsuit will be dropped, said CNN News (2.19.15), citing sources.
The plan is being applauded by civil rights leaders as the lawsuit sends a strong national message to police departments across the country. Discrimination is contrary to the constitutional principles of equal protection and equal treatment. Police should also know racial profiling is illegal.
The announcement of the lawsuit came days before Attorney General Eric Holder was expected to announce the results of the DOJ’s investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown and a wider probe of the Ferguson Police Department.
Ferguson became a focus of national attention after Brown, an unarmed black man, was killed by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014. The fatal shooting led to civil rights protests and debates over race relations and police tactics.
The Justice Department is not expected to charge former Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s death, however it is expected to outline findings that allege a pattern of discriminatory tactics used by the Ferguson police, CNN reported.
Among the issues expected to be part of the Justice Department’s lawsuit are allegations made in a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of low-income Ferguson residents who claimed officers in Ferguson and nearby Jennings discriminated against minorities when enforcing minor offenses, like traffic infractions, and then jailed them when they couldn’t pay the fines.
CNN reported that the Justice Department would seek court supervision of changes at the Ferguson Police Department to “improve how police deal with the minority communities they are supposed to protect.”
Racial profiling and other forms of discrimination need to be addressed. As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) explained, discriminatory policies “alienate communities from law enforcement, hinder community policing efforts, and cause law enforcement to lose credibility and trust among the people they are sworn to protect and serve.”
An individual who feels that he or she has been discriminated against, may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the business, organization, institution, or person that committed the discrimination.
The CNN News story cited is “Justice Dept. could sue Ferguson for racial discrimination.”