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Ferguson Makes Nice|With Justice Department

FERGUSON, Mo. (CN) - Eyes on its wallet, the Ferguson City Council on Tuesday night took the first step to approve a settlement with the Department of Justice.

The City Council approved the settlement Tuesday at its first formal reading. It must be read a second time before the approval becomes official. That vote is expected next Tuesday, March 15.

The Department of Justice investigated the city after Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown to death on Aug. 9, 2014. The ensuing riots and more fatal shooting of black men by white police officers thrust long-simmering problems of racism and excessive force by police into national and world news.

One year ago, the Department of Justice released a scathing report accusing Ferguson police of targeting blacks and the city of using its municipal court as a revenue generator.

After months of negotiations, Ferguson and the federal government reached a tentative settlement, but in February the City Council returned the settlement to the Department of Justice with several stipulations and revisions.

The Department of Justice responded a day later by suing the city in St. Louis Federal Court.

The council's change of heart came with the appointment of Laverne Mitchom to fill a vacant seat. Mitchom, who participated in the protests after Brown's death, was appointed at the same February meeting at which the City Council sent back the settlement.

The Department of Justice said it would drop the lawsuit if Ferguson approved the settlement.

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