The Department of Justice on Wednesday announced a civil rights lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, over unconstitutional policing.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the federal lawsuit during a press conference Wednesday evening. The announcement came after the Ferguson City Council voted to change a proposed consent decree negotiated with the federal government to address a pattern of racial bias in the city’s law enforcement practices.
“Their decision leaves us no further choice,” Lynch said of the city council’s 6-0 vote to change some of the terms of the consent decree, a vote that occurred Tuesday.
Lynch expressed “disappointment” at the vote and regarded it as “unfortunate,” laying blame on the city council for choosing litigation over negotiations.
“We intend to aggressively prosecute this case and we intend to prevail,” Lynch said during remarks to reporters.
The Department of Justice began probing the Ferguson’s policing practices following the shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014. Just weeks ago, the Justice Department announced that it had reached a tentative deal with Ferguson negotiators. The deal would have required Ferguson to reform its police department and court systems, and the Justice Department would have closed its probe.
Lynch said Wednesday that the vote to modify terms of the consent decree constituted a rejection of the deal.
“The residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their Constitutional rights, the rights guaranteed to all Americans, for decades. They have waited decades for justice,” Lynch said. “They should not be forced to wait any longer.”