Scott Olson

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, alleging numerous violations of citizens' constitutional rights.

The suit is the result of the Ferguson City Council's vote this week to reject a consent decree that would have placed the city under federal jurisdiction.


“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 in a statement. "They have waited nearly a year for their police department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights and that thousands of other police departments follow every day.  They have waited nearly a year for their municipal courts to commit to basic, reasonable rules and standards.

"But residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their constitutional rights–the rights guaranteed to all Americans–for decades.  They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.”

The Justice Department's lawsuit drops the hammer on the city from the jump, saying the city and its police force routinely violate a host of constitutional amendments. Among the specific accusations: profiteering…

And letting officers do basically whatever they want.

The suit provides some disturbing examples, like this one about a broken tail-light sting.

Or this one about arresting a random black person. At least the squad car was air conditioned…?

Or, arresting someone for idling in the middle of the street.

The suit alleges the FPD had a trick for getting around warrants.

Sometimes they would simply straight-up ask for you for I.D., over nothing.

Excessive use of force is rampant. Here are two examples involving Electronic Control Weapons, like tasers.

They will do this even if you pose no immediate threat.

And this was common.

And they made no exceptions for people with obvious mental illnesses.

When electronic weapons weren't available, the department used dogs.

Even on children.

“The City of Ferguson had a real opportunity here to step forward, and instead they’ve turned backwards,” Lynch said at a news conference announcing the suit according to the New York Times. “They’ve chosen to live in the past.”


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.