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Ferguson Sued by Federal Government

The federal government sued the city of Ferguson on Wednesday, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed by the Justice Department, alleged that Ferguson routinely violated residents’ rights and misused law enforcement to generate revenue. The government says the practice was “ongoing and pervasive.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Ferguson’s decision to reject the agreement left the department no choice except to sue.

“The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for the city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe. …They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.”

Ferguson spokesman Jeff Small declined to comment. Messages left with Mayor James Knowles III were not returned.

Ferguson has been under Justice Department scrutiny since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was Black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson 18 months ago. A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.

But a scathing Justice Department report was critical of police and a profit-driven municipal court system. Following months of negotiations, an agreement between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January.

A recent financial analysis determined the agreement would cost the struggling city nearly $4 million in the first year alone. The council voted 6-0 Tuesday to adopt the deal, but with seven amendments.