NEWSFLASH: Mayor of Ferguson Claims Scathing DOJ Report ‘Not Proof’ of Widespread Abuses

James Knowles III Mayor of Ferguson

James Knowles III
Mayor of Ferguson

By Elaine Magliaro

Regarding the Justice Department’s investigation of Ferguson, Missouri, which found that “there was probable cause to believe the police and court routinely violate people’s civil rights” in that community: Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III is not convinced “that widespread problems exist” despite the “DOJ’s damning findings…”

During an interview on Friday, Knowles said that “city officials had a lot of work ahead examining the findings of the scathing, 102-page report.” The mayor added, “There are stories that have been told in that report … that are very concerning, and those things have to be addressed. What they’ve shown is that it has happened. Now, how often has that happened? I don’t know. Their assertion is it happens regularly. Based on what? I’m not sure yet.”

Knowles continued, “Do they have a statistic that tells me that they’ve examined every arrest that we’ve made for the past four years and that half, or all, or 10 percent, or 5 percent are unconstitutional or without cause? They do not have that. They have not examined at that level that I know of at this point.” Knowles said that he and other city officials would be “going through and examining those issues to make sure that there are not conclusions being based on anecdotal evidence.” Knowles “emphasized, though, that any civil rights violations were ‘unacceptable, and you need to write that down.’”

Jeremy Kohler (St. Louise Post-Dispatch) said that although the DOJ report “stated there was probable cause to believe the police and court routinely violate people’s civil rights,” Knowles said, “that’s not proof.” Then the mayor added that “there is probably another side to all of these stories.”

Carimah Townes (ThinkProgress) said that Mayor Knowles “is one of many long-standing officials charged with damage control.” Townes added, “The city will likely enter an agreement with the DOJ to make systemic reforms, in order to avoid a federal lawsuit.”


Knowles contends that cleanup efforts are already underway and offer proof that the situation isn’t dire. But the people tasked with implementing changes were heavily involved in establishing the local law enforcement structure. For instance, Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer imposed steep fines on African Americans but owes $170,000 in unpaid taxes.


Asked Friday whether Brockmeyer should remain as judge, Knowles said that was “something we have to look at,” although he said he didn’t think Brockmeyer could be removed in the middle of an appointed term without filing a complaint with the Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline.

City Manager John Shaw was another figure criticized in the report for pushing police again and again to increase the money they were raising for the city through traffic enforcement. Asked whether his job was on the line, Knowles said he wasn’t going to talk about potential staffing changes.

“There is a tremendous amount of things he’s been able to do for this community,” Knowles said.

Knowles said he did not plan to make “a quick decision” about Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. He noted that Jackson “still has a tremendous number of people in this community who support him.”

Kohler said that the mayor of Ferguson “took issue with Department of Justice findings that police disproportionately stop black drivers.” According to Kohler, Knowles “said he believes Ferguson’s businesses are daytime destinations for African-Americans, unfairly skewing the chances that a driver being pulled over will be black.” The mayor added that he hoped his city could come to an agreement with the DOJ as to “what is an effective public policy solution.”


Ferguson Mayor Rejects Department Of Justice Report, Says There’s ‘No Proof’ City Has A Race Problem (ThinkProgress)

Ferguson mayor says scathing DOJ report ‘not proof’ of widespread abuses (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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29 Responses to NEWSFLASH: Mayor of Ferguson Claims Scathing DOJ Report ‘Not Proof’ of Widespread Abuses

  1. eniobob says:

    Well that takes care of see no evil,here is speak no evil,waiting on hear no evil.

    ” Ferguson police chief claims he is oblivious to DOJ report’s findings
    How long do we have to wait for a response from Tom Jackson? ”

  2. Bob Kauten says:

    I hear the baying of a pack of police dogs, growing closer…
    Ferguson police brutality supporters arrival in 3…2…1…

  3. Bob Kauten says:

    Quick! Divert this to an irrelevant discussion of the sainthood of some fool cop that escaped trial for murdering an unarmed black man!
    Diversion has never been tried before, in Flowers for Socrates. It might work!

  4. blouise says:

    This mayor is a ‘former employee of the Ferguson Police Department, serving nearly four years in the department’s communications division.’

  5. Bob Kauten says:

    But where are the dogs? There ought to be dogs…

  6. johnberk says:

    When he starts talking, he resembles this drug crazed realtor from the old movie Cocaine. Maybe he is high on something as well. Totally weird. I believe he had to be out of his mind when he said that (almost) everything was OK with the Fergusson police.

  7. mespo727272 says:

    The mayor needs to read Mike S’s piece on cognitive dissonance.

  8. Elaine M. says:

    Ferguson mayor on defensive after DoJ report on city’s racist practices
    James Knowles acknowledges ‘issues’ uncovered in federal investigation but declines to comment on reforms and whether police chief should be fired

  9. Elaine M. says:

    Missouri Supreme Court takes over cases in Ferguson; judge resigns

    FERGUSON • The Missouri Supreme Court announced Monday that it will take the “extraordinary action” of reassigning all Ferguson municipal court cases to the circuit court, starting next week.

    In a news release, the court announced the move was intended “to help restore public trust and confidence in the Ferguson municipal court division.”

    Ferguson municipal Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer resigned his position Monday afternoon. Dellwood Mayor Reggie Jones said Brockmeyer also resigned Monday as prosecutor there.

    In a phone interview Monday night, Brockmeyer declined to say what would happen with his other municipal court positions as prosecutor in Vinita Park and Florissant, and judge in Breckenridge Hills.

    The actions Monday followed the release last week of a scathing Justice Department report on Ferguson’s police and court practices.

  10. bettykath says:

    Sometime white privilege causes mental blindness. Ref: See responses from Ferguson’s Mayor and Police Chief.

  11. Elaine M. says:


    At Ferguson City Council Debate, Some Still Don’t See A Problem After Brutal DOJ Report

    FERGUSON, Mo. — Members of Ferguson’s city council met Monday night behind closed doors to discuss the Justice Department’s blistering report on the city’s police force and municipal court — and in a debate before a mostly elderly, white audience, some candidates for a council seat claimed the problems in the report were overblown.

    In the wake of last week’s federal investigation into the city’s law enforcement practices, the judge who ran Ferguson’s municipal court has resigned, a top court clerk who sent a racist email was fired, and two police department officials connected to racist emails have stepped down. The report highlighted problems with St. Louis County’s fractured network of municipal courts that extend beyond Ferguson.

    But some people looking to join Ferguson’s government think the Justice Department was unfair to the city. Two black women and two white men are running in an election next month to replace Kim Tihen, one of two representatives for Ferguson’s Ward 1. Tihen, a former police officer, was one of the officers involved in a 2009 incident in which a man was wrongfully arrested, allegedly beaten, and charged with destruction of property for bleeding on police uniforms.

    Mike McGrath, one of the white candidates, believes Tihen did a good job on the council and that the Justice Department report on Ferguson was unfair.

    “They tried to go after Officer Wilson,” McGrath said in an interview after the debate on Monday, referring to Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. “When they couldn’t do that they went after the city.”

    McGrath drew strong support from the audience when he said the residents of Ferguson’s apartment complexes, who are mostly black, didn’t care as much about the city as the homeowners.

    “I may be a silly old man in all of this, but I don’t think we have a big race issue here,” he said in an interview after the meeting, which was interrupted several times by other white residents who wanted to thank him and offer their support. “We have an issue with that part of town and they’ve been a bad part of town for a long time, sadly.”

  12. bettykath says:

    Elaine, Yep, the blindness is widespread.

  13. Breaking news item as of a few minutes ago.

  14. mespo727272 says:

    Cops, clerk, judge, city manager. All gone. What next? Good government in Ferguson? We’ll see but I guess we can surmise that big government can do big good sometimes.

  15. Inga (Annie) says:

    Ferguson is just one of probably hundreds if not thousands of communities just like it. But it’s a fitting place to start cleaning house.

  16. Inga & mespo,
    Back in the 1960s, there was talk of a “domino effect” if Vietnam fell. That is a long established theory in both the social and political sciences. Law enforcement knows about it too, because if one part of a gang cracks, the rest will follow one by one. We may see a domino effect in this case. Ferguson is the first to fall so openly and loudly. There are cracks elsewhere, such as the University of Oklahoma, and a Mississippi sheriff’s department.

    The inmates have taken over the asylum inside the Beltway, previously called the Republican Caucus. What is next? Who knows, but I get the faint whiff of burning pitch on the breeze.

  17. Bob Kauten says:

    “But where are the dogs – send in the dogs…”

    I’m currently reading the DOJ report on Ferguson.
    Page 7:
    “Each of the four patrol squads has a canine officer. ”

    I finally understand the inferred obsession with dog metaphors. They weren’t metaphors.

    “…Don’t bother, they’re here.”

  18. mespo727272 says:


    No I like the original clowns version as more descriptive.

  19. mespo727272 says:

    Task, tsk, Inga. You got the Nanny of RIL mad at you. No dinner and off to bed with you.

  20. Bob Stone says:

    “Ferguson is just one of probably hundreds if not thousands of communities just like it.”

    It’s actually ranked 1,558/3,538.

    And according to the prevailing idiocy, that must mean there are 1,581 other police departments with even worse racist killer cops.

  21. Bob Kauten says:

    Page 31 of the DOJ Ferguson report:
    “FPD engages in a pattern of deploying canines to bite individuals when the articulated
    facts do not justify this significant use of force. The department’s own records demonstrate that,
    as with other types of force, canine officers use dogs out of proportion to the threat posed by the
    people they encounter, leaving serious puncture wounds to nonviolent offenders, some of them
    children. Furthermore, in every canine bite incident for which racial information is available, the
    subject was African American.”

    How did Bob Stone know about all this dog shit, before the DOJ even investigated?
    Prescient, as someone described him, recently!

  22. Inga (Annie) says:

    Mespo, he can take a flying leap.

  23. Inga (Annie) says:

    Chuck, yup, I think when things get so bad that enough people decide to fight back, things will finally happen to change it. Critical mass.

  24. mespo727272 says:

    And likely try to land right on you, Ms tit-for-tat. 😉

  25. Elaine M. says:

    Inga and Mespo,

    Oh my, was I the reason the Nanny got his knickers in a twist?

  26. Elaine M. says:

    Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson To Resign

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who became one of the city’s most well-known figures after a police officer killed teenager Michael Brown in August 2014, plans to resign in the wake of a blistering Justice Department report on the revenue-driven policing and court practices Jackson oversaw in the St. Louis suburb.

    Jackson is the sixth and most high-profile Ferguson city employee to resign after the release of the Justice Department report, which critically examined the practices of the police department and municipal court system. Two police officers and a court clerk stepped down because the report revealed they had sent racist emails, while the municipal judge and City Manager John Shaw resigned over their roles in implementing police practices that prioritized generating revenue over public safety concerns.

    In a resignation letter published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jackson said he was stepping down with “profound sadness” and that he hoped to “continue to assist the city in anyway I can in my capacity as a private citizen.”

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