The municipal court judge in Ferguson is making some sweeping changes for the good of relations between police and civilians.
The municipal court judge in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday announced sweeping changes to the city’s court system, including an order to withdraw all arrest warrants issued in that city before December 31, 2014.
Municipal Court Judge Donald McCullin, who was appointed in June, also changed the conditions for pretrial release. According to a press release put out by Ferguson, all defendants will be given new court dates with alternative penalties like payment plans or community service.
Those caught for minor traffic violations should be less likely to end up behind bars because of McCullin. Under the new policy, they won’t be arrested but instead will be released on their own recognizance and given another court date.
These moves come after a year of often emotional protests and an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after racial tensions exploded over the August 2014 shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white.
A grand jury declined to charge Wilson in that case, determining that the shooting was justified. A Justice Department investigation further concluded the shooting did not violate Brown’s civil rights.
Those decisions did little to quell anger on the St. Louis suburb’s streets tied to that incident and others over the years in which some felt police unfairly singled out African-Americans. A separate Justice Department report found many such examples. The report was soon followed by the resignation of Ferguson’s then-embattled police Chief Thomas Jackson.
One woman active in the protest movement said she thinks Monday’s actions by McCullin show the demonstrations made a difference.
“As an activist you are going to stay mad because you are not going to always get all that you want,” said Patricia Bynes, the Ferguson Township Democratic committeewoman.
“But because of the pushing and the pressure that protesters put on Ferguson, I am considering it a win and a very big win. It’s an olive branch.”
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