Ferguson city officials have finally scheduled a much awaited council meeting on Tuesday to discuss city actions following the police officer shooting of an unarmed teen on August 9. The shooting made national headlines when riots and protests broke out in the community. Looting and violence swept the town in the wake of racial discrimination allegations against the Ferguson police department.
According to the Global Post, the Ferguson City Council, made up of the mayor and six members, was expected to hold the meeting at an area church at 7 p.m. to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd. Protesters have been demanding the ouster of both Mayor James Knowles III and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. This meeting will allow the council to provide citizens with an action plan to ensure racial profiling does not take place in the community.
Though council members are not returning media inquiries at the moment, the council did make a statement on Monday saying it would be establishing a "citizens review board" to work with the police department, and would be introducing an ordinance to reduce fines and other punishments leveled in municipal court that many have alleged unfairly target blacks. The NY Daily News reports that Councilman Mark Byrne said,
"We want to demonstrate to residents that we take their concerns extremely seriously. That's why we're initiating new changes within our local police force and in our courts."The Ferguson City Council isn't the only group investigating the police shooting; the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed it launched a civil rights investigation into Ferguson police in order to suss out whether cops "engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law." The St. Louis County prosecutor's office is also conducting its own criminal investigation in the wake of the teen's death.
In addition to the proposed civilian police watch group, Ferguson officials Monday moved to make other reforms to the town's justice procedures, including a measure that would limit the amount of revenue the city receives from its courts. City officials are hoping that changes to the revenue system will prove to citizens that citations are not being used as an easy revenue stream for the department. The council also said they'd waive a fine levied against defendants who don't show up to scheduled court dates.
Do you think these changes are enough to satisfy protesters in Ferguson? What additional steps do you think the City Council should take to provide peace-of-mind to its citizens? Likewise, should all cities adopt a civilian police watchgroup?