Residents Seek Recall of Ferguson Mayor

     CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – A Ferguson resident sued the city clerk, claiming she disqualified valid signatures on a petition, leaving voters 28 short of the 1,815 names they need to recall the mayor.
     Robert B. Hudgins sued Ferguson City Clerk Megan Asikainen and the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners on July 1 in St. Louis County Court.
     Calls for Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III’s resignation began soon after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
     Brown, an unarmed black man, was killed by white Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. Months of often violent protests culminated in riots and the burning of dozens of businesses after a St. Louis County grand jury refused to indict Wilson in November.
     The Brown shooting prompted federal investigations of the Ferguson Police Department and of Officer Wilson, and, 11 months later has forced citizens, civil rights groups and local, state and federal officials to take new and harder looks at police shootings – particularly police shootings of black men.
     While the Department of Justice refused to charge Wilson, it blasted the practices of the Ferguson Police Department and Municipal Court in a report released in March.
     That report found that a pattern of racism by police fueled the Brown protests and that the court was acting as a financial instrument for the city, targeting black people for fines, rather than as a pure court of law.
     After the report, Ferguson’s municipal judge, city clerk and police chief resigned. Some residents demanded that Mayor Knowles go too.
     In his new lawsuit, Hudgins claims that he and four other registered Ferguson voters started their recall campaign on March 13. The City Charter requires that signatures of 15 percent of the voters registered for the previous election need to be certified to force a recall.
     The April 2014 mayoral election was held among 12,096 registered voters, so Hudgins’s group needs 1,815 valid signatures to force a recall.
     He claims that Asikainen invalidated more than 28 signatures, leaving his group with only 1,787 “valid signatures” -28 short.
     Hudgins says more than 28 signatures were invalidated as “no signature” or the “wrong signature.” He claims at least 28 are valid.
     He asks the court to “issue a final determination of the validity of the gathered signatures,” and proceed with the recall.
     Ferguson said city policy prevents commenting on pending litigation.
     Hudgins is represented by Jeremy A. Gogel of St. Louis.

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