Earlier this week, the Justice Department released an incriminating report on the civil-rights failings of the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, any response to the report has been muted in and around the city that spurred it. The newspaper was unable to reach a judge and prosecuting attorney mentioned in the report for comment. Other prosecutors, attorneys, and judges contacted by the Post-Dispatch declined to comment on the report “because they hadn’t read it.”
Officials representing Ferguson’s neighbors in St. Louis defended the police and courts. One alderman said that the report “seems a little overblown,” and “We are taking too much power away from the police and courts if we criticize what they are doing to keep us safe.” The mayor of Breckenridge Hills didn’t see how Ferguson was any different from anywhere else. “Do I think he did anything wrong? No more wrong than any other attorney out there. You can go to any judge, any prosecuting attorney. That stuff happens everywhere.”
Activists around Missouri have cited the fact that this “stuff happens everywhere” as a reason why police and court reform should extend beyond Ferguson.
At least one official in Ferguson has been fired in the aftermath of the DOJ report, and several more are under investigation. The municipal judge in Ferguson, Ronald Brockmeyer, responded to the New York Times’ request for comment by saying, “Suggest you come to court someday and see for yourself that the allegations are unfounded.”