One of the most troubling parts of the Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson was the section on the use of police canines. When we talked with the Ferguson Police Department, they were baffled by what the DOJ could have seen as unconstitutional. They said the FPD canines were not deployed during the protests and hardly even get used in apprehension; they pointed out that in the small handful of cases where canines did apprehend suspects virtually every suspect was charged with a felony.
In response, we filed a freedom of information act request with the Department of Justice, for information on the police canine cases they cited. We recently received their response: they will not provide us anything until the law enforcement proceeding is complete. (Download HERE) They suggested we were asking for their work papers and possible trial strategy. We will appeal and point out that we were not asking for work papers or strategy, just the police canine cases noted in the report.
As residents of Ferguson, we have found the Department of Justice to be extremely frustrating to deal with. After releasing a scathing, but very general report on their accusations, the DOJ then refused to release any of the backup information on the report.
Why? Wouldn’t releasing the terrible details that were hinted at in the report put additional pressure on Ferguson to settle? Wouldn’t public displeasure help force Ferguson to change its ways? Why won’t the DOJ provide backup to its accusations? What does the DOJ have to hide?
Unfortunately, it seems more and more likely that what they are hiding is that they don’t have a case. That in response to a very heated political situation they pieced together a narrative using bits and pieces of information out of context and manipulated statistical data to build a narrative of Ferguson as a bad place. But now the DOJ can’t let anyone know just how weak its case it, and so it is trying to keep everything hidden while it tries to force the city of Ferguson into a settlement.
Again, the frustration of dealing with the DOJ. Ferguson is being pressured into signing a settlement, without ever getting to see what the DOJ thinks it actually did wrong. How can this be justice?
Help Ferguson Get the Truth Out
Beginning with Eric Holder announcing the Department of Justice’s “searing” report, the DOJ has selectively collected and presented information to paint Ferguson as racist and abusive. Ferguson Truth was formed to push for transparency and truth from the Department of Justice, to counteract this distorted narrative that the DOJ created.