Ferguson refuses to fire police chief after Justice Department report reveals widespread abuse

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson will keep his job despite the findings of a US Justice Department report documenting widespread criminal abuse by Ferguson police.

“He’s still the chief,” Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III told the Associated Press, stressing that his administration was “not here to just chop heads.” Jackson had earlier stated his refusal to step down as chief of the department on numerous occasions.

Last week, the Justice Department released a report documenting a “pattern” of “unlawful conduct within the Ferguson Police Department,” in violation of residents’ First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The report found that police in the St. Louis suburb unlawfully arrest, beat and taser residents, and that the city’s courts engaged in practices that are similar to the operation of a “debtor’s prison.”

Despite the report’s findings of widespread criminality, it does not call for the removal of officials, or any other form of significant accountability for the crimes it documents.

Knowles told the Associated Press that city officials were preparing to meet with the Justice Department in several weeks to come up with proposals for “reforming” the department.

Knowles said that recent claims made by US Attorney General Eric Holder that the federal government was prepared to order a wholesale dismantling of the Ferguson police department had “zero” likelihood of happening.

The Obama Administration’s failure to hold anyone to account for the grossly illegal practices unveiled in the report demonstrates the fact that it sides directly with the police in their violence and repression against the population.

This was displayed most directly in the Justice Department’s refusal last week to bring federal charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August.

On Friday President Obama told a group of college students in Columbia, South Carolina that he has “complete confidence and stand[s] by the decision that was made by the Justice Department” not to bring charges against Wilson.

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[07 March 2015]