The federal government sued Ferguson on Wednesday, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb, the AP reports. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Ferguson's decision to reject the deal left the department no choice except to file a civil-rights lawsuit. The Justice Department complaint accuses Ferguson of routinely violating residents' rights and misusing law enforcement to generate revenue. Ferguson leaders "had a real opportunity here to step forward, and they've chosen to step backward," Lynch said.
Ferguson has been under Justice Department scrutiny since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson 18 months ago. A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson. But a scathing Justice Department report was critical of police and a profit-driven municipal court system. Following months of negotiations, an agreement between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January. A recent financial analysis determined the agreement would cost the struggling city nearly $4 million in the first year alone. A big part of the cost was the requirement that Ferguson raise police salaries to attract better candidates, including more minority officers. The city council wanted the Justice Department to agree to seven new amendments to the agreement. Read the full story here. (Read more Ferguson, Missouri stories.)