Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Justice Department Investigators in Missouri
Fire burns at Ferguson memorial to Michael Brown.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Associated Press
FERGUSON, Mo. — Investigators with the Justice Department are expected to explain details about the federal agency's investigation of Ferguson police at a meeting Wednesday night in suburban St. Louis.

Officials with the Justice Department's civil rights division said they will give residents at St. Louis Community College's Florissant campus insight into the investigation, which is examining among other things whether minorities in Ferguson are being treated fairly by officers. The civil rights investigators also hope to speak with people about their interactions with Ferguson police.

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9 spurred protests and unrest. The meeting comes a day after new violent protests. One store was damaged by looting Tuesday night, another was set on fire, and police were attacked with rocks and bottles. Two officers were injured.

A grand jury is deciding if Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot the unarmed, black 18-year-old, will face criminal charges.

Some black citizens who were peacefully protesting Wednesday in Ferguson said they planned to tell Justice Department officials about harassment they've suffered at the hands of police.

Anthony McAllister, 44, of neighboring Kinloch, said he has been pulled over countless times by Ferguson police for no reason. He said that in the 1980s, a Ferguson officer shot and killed a friend who, according to McAllister, was doing nothing wrong.

Alexis Templeton said a Ferguson officer once pulled her over when she hadn't broken the law. She said it puzzled her.

"When he got to my window he said it looked like I was about to start speeding," said Templeton, 20, of Ferguson.

The Justice Department investigation is looking into whether Ferguson officers use excessive force, including "unreasonable deadly force," a news release from the federal agency said. The investigation also is examining whether the department's officers engage in discriminatory practices and whether the constitutional rights of some residents have been violated by traffic stops, searches and arrests.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson has said he welcomes the investigation.

The St. Louis suburb of 21,000 residents has been criticized by some for the makeup of its Police Department. Ferguson is two-thirds African-American, but only three of the 53 police officers are black.

In addition to investigating police, the Justice Department's civil rights division also is looking into whether Ferguson's municipal court system unfairly targets minority residents.

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