© 2024 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Ferguson City Manager Out After Justice Department Report
In this March 4, 2015, file photo, protesters block traffic on the street outside the Ferguson, Mo., police department in Ferguson. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

Ferguson City Manager Out After Justice Department Report

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The Ferguson City Council on Tuesday evening unanimously approved a resolution to part ways with City Manager John Shaw following a scathing Justice Department report that alleged racial bias in the city police department and court system.

The St. Louis suburb has been beleaguered by unrest since a white police officer fatally shot black 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer.

In this March 4, 2015, file photo, protesters block traffic on the street outside the Ferguson, Mo., police department in Ferguson. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

A St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department both declined to bring charges against Officer Darren Wilson, who resigned from the department. The Justice Department report said Wilson acted in self-defense when he shot Brown. But the Justice Department said in its report last week that Ferguson's police and court systems functioned as a money-making enterprise that heightened tensions among residents.

The DOJ report cited cases of racial profiling and bigotry by the predominantly white police force in the mostly black St. Louis suburb. Brown's shooting prompted protests in the St. Louis area and across the nation.

The findings already have led to a Missouri appeals court judge being tapped to overhaul the local court system.

Also, racist emails included in the report led to the firing of the city clerk and resignation of two police officers last week.

A news release from the city said the Council had reached a "mutual separation agreement" with Shaw, the city's chief executive, effective immediately. The statement also said a nationwide search for Shaw's replacement would begin immediately.

"I believe that the city of Ferguson has the resolve to overcome the challenges it faces in the coming months and emerge as a stronger community for it," Shaw, 39, said in a statement included in the release.

Since Brown's death seven months ago, Mayor James Knowles has been the public face and voice of Ferguson's city government. But Shaw held the legal power to make personnel and policy changes in the police department — not Knowles, a part-time officeholder who earns less than $5,000 annually.

Shaw has been Ferguson's city manager for eight years. He had previously worked as city clerk and assistant to the city administrator in Shrewsbury, another town in St. Louis County.

Online biographies indicate that he grew up in north St. Louis County and lived in Ferguson before working for the city. He was honored in 2013 as a distinguished alumnus of a public policy administration program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which is located near Ferguson, and was listed as an adviser for the university's student group for aspiring city managers.

Shaw has not spoken publicly about the shooting, protests, grand jury inquiry or Justice Department investigation. He stood silently beside two City Council members at Knowles' Wednesday news conference responding to the Justice Department report and declined, through a city spokesman, a subsequent Associated Press interview request. He was not at Tuesday's meeting.

The Justice Department report repeatedly cited Shaw's role in encouraging his police force to aggressively ticket motorists as a means to generate revenue.

In one instance, he responded to a Jackson email about a record-setting month for court revenue — nearly $180,000 in February 2011 alone — with the exclamation, "Wonderful!"

And when Jackson told Shaw in January 2013 that municipal court revenue had exceeded $2 million the previous year, the city manager was similarly excited.

"Awesome!" he said, according to the federal inquiry.

But in a statement issued after the announcement of his departure, Shaw said his office "never instructed the police department to target African Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor. Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false," Shaw said.

Want to leave a tip?

We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Want to join the conversation?
Already a subscriber?