DOJ Report: Police in Ferguson Antagonized Demonstrators and Violated Their Free-Speech Rights
The summary report examines local and state law enforcement’s response to the unrest following the police killing of Michael Brown.
“A U.S. Department of Justice report finds significant faults in law enforcement’s response to the demonstrations last summer in Ferguson, Mo., over the slaying of Michael Brown, the Associated Press reports.
State and local authorities antagonized demonstrators in several ways, such as using military-style equipment and inappropriately using tear gas. The DOJ also concluded that authorities violated the free-speech rights of protesters and withheld information that they should have made public, according to AP.
The report examines the two weeks of demonstrations and tumult following a white officer fatally shooting the unarmed black teenager last August. It is part of a more detailed “after-action” assessment of the police in Ferguson, St. Louis city and county and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which is scheduled for release in upcoming weeks.
Federal authorities point to the poor relationship between the Ferguson Police Department and the black community as a core issue. In an earlier investigation, the Justice Department found that the police routinely violated the rights of the black residents they served.
The community’s hostility toward Ferguson police added fuel to the unrest. Making matters worse, the authorities failed to disseminate properly what they knew about Brown’s death.
“Had law enforcement released information on the officer-involved shooting in a timely manner and continued the information flow as it became available, community distrust and media skepticism would most likely have been lessened,” the report states, according to AP.
The Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services office prepared the report. That section of the department focuses on building trust between police and communities.”