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Ferguson City Manager John Shaw resigns after scathing DOJ report

Protesters stand outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., March 3, 2015. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/The New York Times/Redux)
Protesters stand outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., March 3, 2015.

The shakeup continues.

Ferguson City Manager John Shaw resigned Tuesday night, the latest in a series of resignations and firings that have taken place in the wake of a scathing Justice Department report that condemned the Missouri city for repeated constitutional and civil rights violations against black residents by its police department and courts.

The Ferguson City Council voted unanimously on a mutual separation agreement with Shaw, effective immediately, according to a press release from the city.

“We appreciate John’s service and commitment to the City of Ferguson for the past eight years,” Mayor James Knowles III said in a statement. “The City Council and John Shaw feel as though it is the appropriate time for the City to move forward as it begins its search for a new City Manager." 

Shaw, whose duties as city manager included the supervision of the Ferguson Police Department, is mentioned several times in the DOJ report as presiding directly over a predatory court system that aggressively fined black residents as a way to pad the city's coffers.

"It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my separation from the City of Ferguson as city manager," Shaw said in a statement released Tuesday night. "After much thought and prayer, I feel it is in the community's best interest that I step aside at this time."

RELATED: Ferguson judge resigns, state supreme court to take all municipal cases

While Shaw said he respected the work the DOJ has done in their investigation and report on Ferguson, he emphasized that his 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. Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false."

The 103-page report, the culmination of a months-long investigation following the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, found the city police department fostered a culture of racial hostility that included unreasonable searches and seizures, racial slurs, and the excessive use of force. The Ferguson judicial system was denounced for fining policies that used black residents as a moneymaking scheme to bolster the municipal budget.

Although the DOJ concluded in a parallel investigation that there was not enough evidence to charge Wilson for civil rights violations, the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death remain at the center of a larger conversation about racial bias and policing reform that has grown into a national movement to improve relations between law enforcement and minority communities.