City Manager John Shaw is the latest casualty of a US Justice Department report that found systematic bias by police and courts in Ferguson, Missouri in the interest of financial gain.
Mr Shaw, whose position essentially made him the CEO of Ferguson, announced his resignation at Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, the New York Times reported. Mr Shaw had been Ferguson’s city manager since 2007.
The resignation came in a page-long letter distributed to City Council members in which Mr Shaw defended his work over the last several years.
“And while I certainly respect the work that the DOJ recently performed in their investigation and report on the City of Ferguson, I must state clearly that my office has never instructed the Police Department to target African-Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor,” he wrote. “Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false.”
Council members voted 7-0 to approve the resignation. Following the meeting, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said “We wanted to move forward as a community.”
Moving forward has proven to be difficult in the majority-black suburb of St. Louis since last summer, when unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was killed by white police officer Darren Wilson.
Even though Wilson has been exonerated by a grand jury and by the Justice Department, Mr Brown’s death provoked long-simmering racial tensions in the city. The Justice Department last week released a damning report that showed police and courts in Ferguson had long targeted blacks in traffic stops and other tickets in an effort to generate revenue.
Mr Shaw denied having anything to do with the discriminatory practices, but since his position put him in charge of hiring city officials and overseeing policies he has been blamed for many of the issues.
Already in Ferguson, a municipal court clerk has been fired and two police supervisors have resigned, all for sending racist emails that were uncovered in the Justice Department report.
On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court stripped Ferguson’s municipal courts of their power and assigned all local cases to a state appeals court judge. Ferguson Judge Ronald Brockmeyer also has resigned.
Ferguson officials did not return calls for comment on Wednesday and it is unclear when the city will name Mr Shaw’s replacement or who that person could be.
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