In the wake of last Wednesday’s Justice Department report on Ferguson, Missouri, the city manager John Shaw announced his resignation. Officials announced that, during a Tuesday meeting, Ferguson’s City Council unanimously accepted Shaw’s resignation. He will immediately step down.
The city manager is tasked to oversee the police department, being the top non-elected municipal official. John Shaw has been holding this position since 2007.
This highly-covered investigation into Ferguson’s police department occurred as a reaction to the buzz created in the media when unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer, on August 9 last year. Darren Wilson, theresponsible officer in the case, was never charged in the shooting, and nationwide protests followed complaining about the mistreatment of blacks by police.
The report released on Wednesday places Shaw among the people most heavily criticized by the Justice Department. The report says that the African-American community has been a constant target of white police force misconduct, who sometimes regards black citizens as a source of income for the city through unjustified fines and fees.
The federal report also underlines that officers made a habit of using excessive violence, often illegally arresting people, using tasers or deploying attack dogs on unarmed suspects. Among the parties blamed for the situation, the Justice Department names the city’s administration, which, by making revenue generation a top objective on its agenda, deliberately influenced police leadership to act in such a reckless manner.
Before he left his office, John Shaw felt the necessity ofrectifying the report’s last statement. “My office has never instructed the police department to target African Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor,” Shaw told the press. “Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false.”
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said the decision comes as a “mutual agreement that we wanted to move forward as a community.” The city manager is the 5th Ferguson top official to leave his office following DOJ scathing report. Apart from fining irregularities, the federal report also found racist emails, and the people found to be responsible for them – two police officers and the city’s court clerk, namely Henke, Mudd and Twitty – had to leave their respective jobs last week. Another municipal judgeaccused in the report for claiming “abusive and unlawful” court fees, announced on Monday that he would also be handing in his resignation.
Serious reform is expected from Mayor James Knowles, both by the Justice Department and by the public scrutiny. Ferguson citizens gathered outside as the Tuesday meeting was taking place.About150 people of different racial backgrounds created a tense atmosphere around the city council. The tense situation was close to igniting after a white resident, Suzanne Schmidt, said she was backing Darren Wilson. A prompt reply followed from another black resident, Danielle Morrison, who blamed Wilson for starting the whole thing after targeting teenager Michael Brown only because of his race.
The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson has been the scene of massive protests since last year, aimed at the police brutality against black people taking place all across the United States.