clock menu more-arrow no yes

Justice Department report: Police seriously botched their response to Ferguson protesters

The US Department of Justice on Thursday released a scathing report outlining police's flawed response to the 2014 Ferguson protests, finding law enforcement acted inconsistently, carelessly, and over-aggressively in dealing with demonstrators.

The report confirms many of the problems raised by media and critics last year, when police dropped tear gas and fired rubber bullets into crowds of largely peaceful demonstrators in the weeks following the police shooting of Michael Brown. Investigators found, for example, that the response to the protests "was generally reactive and did not appear to establish a strategic approach to effectively mitigate the complexity of issues and respond more effectively to the mass gatherings." And it concluded that the deployment of military equipment worsened tensions and didn't effectively control the crowd.

But the report also raised other failures not directly related to the protests — such as the slow communication about the investigation into Brown's death and police's inability to see and understand "endemic problems in the community" that drove black residents in particular to see their local criminal justice system as biased and unfair.

"The Ferguson [Police Department] had virtually no established community relationships with the residents of Canfield Green Apartments, where Mr. Brown was killed, or with much of the African-American community in Ferguson," the report stated. "The Ferguson protests demonstrate the importance of law enforcement agencies engaging in dedicated and proactive efforts to understand the communities they serve and to foster strong trust in law enforcement."

The report is basically a reiteration of the same, consistent themes of Ferguson: Police exhibited a pattern of racial bias, they acted too aggressively in both their daily policing and their reaction to the protests, and local leaders were too slow in acknowledging and fixing those problems, leading to worse tensions as the community felt neglected.

Read the full Justice Department report on the Ferguson protests