Ferguson council to meet for first time since Michael Brown shooting

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 09, 2014 7:05 AM

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - City leaders in Ferguson, Missouri, on Tuesday will hold their first public meeting since last month's fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer that ignited nights of unrest in the St. Louis suburb.

The Ferguson City Council, made up the mayor and six members, was expected to hold the meeting at an area church at 7 p.m. to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd. Protesters have been demanding the ouster of both Mayor James Knowles III and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson.

Officials are under fire for how they handled the aftermath of the Aug. 9 shooting. The council canceled its last regular meeting - the fourth Tuesday of August - as the community seethed with sometimes violent protests and was placed under a state of emergency by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

A "people's council meeting" is planned before the City Council meeting, said Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson Township in St. Louis County.

"They've put off having the City Council meeting for a month now," said Bynes. "It's going to be interesting."

None of the council members, including its one black member, Dwayne James, returned phone calls seeking comment.

The council issued a statement on Monday saying it would be establishing a "citizens review board" to work with the police department, and would be introducing an ordinance to reduce fines and other punishments leveled in municipal court that many have alleged unfairly target blacks.

Protests have continued both in Ferguson and across the country over what demonstrators say is a long history of police intimidation and abuse of blacks in the St. Louis area and many other U.S. cities.

The protests began hours after Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on a residential street. Wilson was put on administrative leave and has not been charged.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said he is presenting evidence to a grand jury to determine if charges will be brought in Brown's death. An autopsy showed the teenager was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.

The U.S. Department of Justice is probing the case as well, and looking into policing practices in Ferguson, where officials have been accused of racial profiling.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Mo.,; Writing by Fiona Ortiz and Carey Gillam; Editing by peter Cooney)