U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Friday that the Department of Justice is prepared to dismantle the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department after the DOJ found a widespread pattern of racial bias against blacks on the the city’s force, Reuters reports.
“We are prepared to use all the power that we have … to ensure that the situation changes there,” Holder told reporters, according to Reuters.
He went further when asked whether that power includes dismantling the Ferguson Police Department, saying, “If that’s what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that,” Reuters says.
The DOJ released a scathing report this week that found outsize racial bias on the city’s almost entirely white police force, which overwhelmingly arrested and issued traffic citations to black residents. The practice caused the city’s poor citizens to rack up exorbitant fees and jail time when they were unable to pay. The DOJ investigation was triggered by protests that flared up after a white Ferguson officer shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown Aug. 9, 2014.
Additionally, Holder said President Barack Obama’s task force on policing would issue guidelines to address the jailing of citizens who owe money to the city, the report says. But he noted that state sovereignty does not allow the federal government to demand change. The DOJ, however, can file a lawsuit to force reform. In about two weeks, Ferguson city officials will begin negotiating an agreement on reforms, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said, according to the report.
Read more at the Huffington Post.