The U.S. Department of Justice released dozens of “totally or partially” redacted documents related to Michael Brown‘s 2014 fatal shooting and Ferguson protests to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, according to a new report from the newspaper.
Almost two-thirds and a “vast majority” of the 400 documents identified by the DOJ’s COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) were totally redacted without any references to the topics covered, to the person(s) who created them or to whom they were intended for, the Post Dispatch reported. The documents’ release came nearly three years after the newspaper filed a Freedom Of Information Act request in the wake of Brown’s death, which stirred a racial storm in Ferguson.
Only 55 pages, full of “mostly mundane” COPS office communications about press releases and other “non-revelatory” material,” were “totally releasable” to the newspaper, DOJ FOIA Officer Chaun Eason concluded. “Third-party privacy” was cited as the reason for many of the redacted documents, with some material withheld under “deliberative process protections” defined under federal law, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Several documents mention the DOJ’s full involvement in Ferguson. A plan involving a COPS-led youth forum in Ferguson 11 days after Brown’s shooting took up a “significant portion” of the 65 pages of one of the documents released with partial redactions.
The DOJ had also blacked out portions of a Nov. 5, 2014, update related to Ferguson sent from a COPS official. Two recipients were not named because of “the personal privacy of third parties,” Eason said.
Other documents mentioned then-COPS director Ronald Davis traveling to St. Louis and the DOJ’s “technical assistance options” that he planned to address with local officials. Ferguson news stories were chronicled in other pages released to the Post-Dispatch as well as COPS officials setting up meetings with the Missouri congressional delegation staff members.
The documents were created by a pre-Trump Department of Justice before a strict “law-and-order” policy on backing police forces. Ferguson’s beleaguered police department and its courts had systemically violated African Americans’ constitutional rights with illegal stops,
arrests and harassments, according to the Obama-era DOJ’s scathing 2015 report that forced the majority-Black city’s police force to enact reform.
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12 photos Launch gallery
1. 2014: Michael Brown’s lifeless body was left in the streets of Ferguson for more than four hours after he was killed by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9.
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2. 2015: Tyrone Harris, 18, was shot in Ferguson Sunday night by police for allegedly attacking them with a firearm. He remains in critical condition and is facing four charges of first-degree assault on law enforcement, five counts of armed criminal action, and one count of discharging a firearm at a motor vehicle.
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3. 2015: Police stand to maintain the crowd after shots rang out on the anniversary of Mike Brown’s death.
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4. 2014: An unarmed protester was approached by police during protests in Ferguson. The image became one of the most memorable of the city’s uprising.
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5. 2015: A woman stands before police with her hands up in the air.
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6. 2014: After the shooting of Mike Brown and the death of Eric Garner, unrest continued to rise in Ferguson. After it was determined that Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the fatal shooting of the teen, protesters took to the streets.
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7. 2015: Since the death of Brown, over 100 men, women, and children of color have been killed by police. Worldwide protests have continued advocating for better training for police officers.
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8. 2014: A woman hit with pepper spray is doused with milk. Ferguson police issued curfews for protesters after incidents of arson and looting occurred during peaceful protests in the city.
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9. 2015: A year later, protesters say they too were hit with tear gas while protesting in the streets.
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10. 2014: The National Guard was called into Ferguson to “control” protests.
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11. 2015: A teen is caught in the crossfire during a shooting that took place in Ferguson on the anniversary of Mike Brown’s death.
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12. 2015: St. Louis police with army gear arrive in Ferguson Sunday night.
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