Federal Judge Approves Ferguson Consent Decree Following Public Hearing - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Federal Judge Approves Ferguson Consent Decree Following Public Hearing

Ferguson, Mo. – Yesterday, following hours of testimony from the public, Judge Catherine Perry, presiding judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, approved a consent decree settling the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the City of Ferguson. After the shooting death of Michael Brown, the DOJ brought this action, resulting in findings of unconstitutional racial bias in policing. The consent decree is the settlement of that lawsuit, and it outlines measures that Ferguson must take to remedy their policing and municipal court practices. The court will oversee Ferguson’s compliance with the decree.

“As African-Americans in Ferguson, we were routinely challenged by the dehumanizing treatment we received in response to our calls to address regular violations of our constitutional rights,” said Mildred Clines, a 28-year resident of Ferguson and member of the Ferguson Collaborative, a grass-roots group of residents and stakeholders who have called for greater community involvement in the consent decree process. “This ruling represents a victory for us and our allies, who decided to stand up for justice. Still, this is only the beginning. Now we need to make sure the terms of the consent decree are followed, and we need an independent monitor to make sure that the city will properly implement this decree,” said Clines, who is also a member of the Ferguson Civilian Review Board Task Force and the Neighborhood Policing Steering Committee established in the wake of the negotiations with the DOJ.

The DOJ investigation found a pattern and practice of unconstitutional racial bias in policing against African-Americans in Ferguson. In order to address this, the decree authorized yesterday features critical components including data collection, training and evaluation, use of force policies and early warning systems.

“Racially biased and exploitive policing practices have had a broad and insidious impact on the community,” said Christine Assefa of Organization for Black Struggle, which has been working closely with the Ferguson Collaborative. “The consent decree itself will not bring about the needed transformations in Ferguson, but the participation in local government by empowered residents committed to change will.”

“A discriminatory approach to policing exacerbates the loss of credibility that police have suffered in Ferguson and in too many other communities of color,” said Denise Lieberman, Senior Attorney at Advancement Project, a racial justice organization that has been working with the Ferguson Collaborative to advance community input in the negotiations. “Over time, it perpetuates deeply embedded inequalities of power and opportunity that have long-term effects in communities. The decree is a critical first step to addressing an entrenched problem, but it must have strong accountability to ensure long-term sustainable change.”

More than 30 members of the public testified at yesterday’s Fairness Hearing on the decree, including members of the Ferguson Collaborative. Even as community members were given a forum to share concerns, it was clear that the judge did not address every key point. As such, advocates will continue to fight for empowered community engagement in the implementation process.

The decree’s success as a long-term tool of reform will depend not just on strong judicial oversight of the decree, but in strengthening the citizen involvement and public accountability aspects of the systemic operations the decree mandates.

The Ferguson Collaborative’s testimony can be accessed through this link:


The Ferguson Consent Decree approved today can be accessed through this link:




Racial Justice Organization Advancement Project Responds to President Biden’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, DC – In reaction to the State of the Union, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project, a national racial justice organization, issued this statement: “Tonight’s State of the Union, held just weeks after the killing of Tyre Nichols, did little to address the core problems inherent in policing.  “While President Biden acknowledged the pain and grief of families like the parents of Tyre Nichols, his administration’s efforts to put more money and resources into policing will only result in more murders of Black people by the hands of police.

Read More
Advancement Project Responds to Reports Of Memphis Police Officers Charged Over Tyre Nichols Killing

Leading Racial Justice Organization Calls for World Where Black People Are Free WASHINGTON, DC —  In response to reports that five former Memphis police officers are charged with the murder and kidnapping of Tyre Nichols, Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project released this statement: “Today, three weeks after Tyre Nichols’ brutal killing, it was announced that five former Memphis police officers were indicted on charges including murder and kidnapping. While it is rare to see cops face any accountability for their actions, this is hardly a victory. Nothing can bring…

Read More
We Cannot Keep Doing Business As Usual: Response to Biden’s “Safer America Plan”

Civil Rights Organization on President Biden’s “Safer America Plan” Says Increase of Police Officers in Communities Will Not Only Fail to Improve Public Safety, But Also Lead to More Harm to Communities of Color Washington, DC – In response to the “Safer America Plan” announced by President Joe Biden on Tuesday in Philadelphia, Liyah Brown, program director for the Justice Project at Advancement Project National Office, issued this statement:  “President Biden’s call for an increase of police officers in our communities will not only fail to improve…

Read More
Leading Civil Rights Group on Reports Federal Officials Have Charged Four Current and Former Police Officers in the Killing of Breonna Taylor

Statement from Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project – National Office, a leading civil rights organization, on reports that federal officials have charged four current and former police officers involved in the fatal raid that killed Breonna Taylor, of several crimes, including lying to obtain a warrant that was used to search her home:  “Today, by moving forward with criminal charges against the four police officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor as she slept in her bed, federal officials are recognizing what we have all known for years: Breonna Taylor should be alive…

Read More
Invest in People, Not Police

July 22, 2022 Contact: Yasmeen Ramahi, [email protected] “Invest in People, Not Police” Advancement Project National Office Response to Joe Biden’s “Safer America Plan” Washington, DC – In response to the “Safer America Plan” introduced by President Joe Biden on Thursday, Liyah Brown, program director for the Justice Project at Advancement Project National Office, issued this statement:  “President Biden’s call for an increase of 100,000 police officers in our communities will not only fail to improve public safety, but will…

Read More
Civil Rights Org Advancement Project National Office Responds to Biden’s Policing Order

NATIONAL – Today, on the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police and the subsequent uprisings across the country calling for an overhaul of police and policing, President Biden signed an Executive Order that aims to cut down on police abuse and misconduct. In response, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of the national civil rights group Advancement Project National Office, wrote this statement: “On the anniversary of the day when George Floyd was killed by state-sanctioned police violence, we are glad to see President Biden creating an initiative that aims to curtail police abuse…

Read More
Advancement Project Calls on America to Move Beyond Police and Prisons: “We Can’t Reform This System”

A year after George Floyd’s murder, Advancement Project National Office reflects on how to build a #FreeandSafe society for all people of color.

Read More
The Best Mother’s Day Gift is Freedom

By Ashley Carter, Justice Project Program Deputy Director and Senior Staff Attorney Photo credit: Cyndi Elledge // Photos are a part of the #FreeBlackWomxn series. Visit www.freeblackwomxn.org. Thousands of women with children across the United States will spend this Mother’s Day behind bars. The crisis of mass incarceration has fueled a family separation endemic: more than 150,000 children have a parent who is in jail simply because they are too poor to afford their court-imposed cash bail. This year we are working to support the 2021 Black Mama’s Day Bailout organized and led by our community partners…

Read More
Black Mama Bailout: #FreeBlackWomxn

Michigan Liberation and the Advancement Project National Office have launched the #FreeBlackWomxn campaign, a photo and storytelling project that elevates the voices of Black Michigan mothers who have experienced incarceration. We are honored that Kimberly, Machelle, Geneva, Darnita, Dominica, Irene, and Tamika shared their stories with us. Click each woman’s photo below to read their experience with incarceration. In Spring 2019, Michigan…

Read More
Photo of the back of a police officer
More Cop Convictions Won’t Stop Racist Police Violence

By Thomas B. Harvey, Justice Project Program Director Last week, as people across America waited for a verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial, police in Ohio murdered a 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant. As Chauvin was found guilty on three counts for murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ma’Khia Bryant lay dead in the street in Columbus. Credit: Fred Moon While we should hope that Chauvin’s conviction brings some peace and healing to George Floyd’s family, friends, and the broader Minneapolis community, Ma’Khia’s murder reinforced a disturbing reality: individual convictions are irrelevant to the movement to end police violence. Cops will continue to…

Read More