Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clergy and Others Call for Overhaul of Ferguson Leadership

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clergy and Others Call for Overhaul of Ferguson Leadership

Article excerpt

FERGUSON * About 25 civic leaders, members of the clergy and residents stood in front of the Ferguson Police Department on Sunday afternoon, calling for wholesale leadership changes.

They said they were motivated by the recent Department of Justice investigation that reinforced what many of them had suspected: unfair policing that targeted minorities.

"We implore the Ferguson municipality to eliminate these patterns and practices immediately by firing and finding a new police chief and rehiring all police officers in order that this city may be liberated," the Rev. Spencer Booker, pastor of St. Paul AME Church in St. Louis, said at the news conference.

Some passing cars honked in support of the group that gathered where months of protesting occurred following the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown by police Officer Darren Wilson.

Although the Justice Department further exonerated Wilson last week, Booker, in his speech, described Brown as the "sacrificial lamb" and Wilson the "culprit" who brought the findings in the DOJ's 102-page report to light.

"That report was alarming, shameful and disgraceful," Booker said. "Ferguson's patterns and practices have caused a grave disconnect on its citizens. We have such mistrust against this municipality."

Following the release of the report last week, Ferguson police Capt. Rick Henke and Sgt. William Mudd resigned and Court Clerk Mary Ann Twitty was fired over racist emails.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III told the Post-Dispatch on Friday that the report revealed details that raise concern; however, he wasn't sure if the behavior is as prevalent as it has been made to sound. The Justice Department report stated there was probable cause to believe the police and court routinely violate people's civil rights. "That's not proof," he said, adding that "there is probably another side to all of these stories."

Police Chief Thomas Jackson has not commented on the DOJ report and has said that he has no plans to resign.

Knowles wasn't present at Sunday's news conference, where people like Mary Robinson, a longtime resident of Ferguson, asked for him and other administrators to move on. …

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