Almost a year after a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man, setting off protests, violence and a national movement, the St. Louis suburb has taken a previously unheard of step of hiring an interim black police chief.
Andre Anderson, 50, a commander with the Glendale, Ariz., Police Department, was picked by Ferguson officials as the interim police chief in the city of about 21,000 people. More than 60 percent of the residents are African American.
The police chief, city manager and municipal court judge resigned after a scathing Justice Department report, showing a consistent pattern of racial profiling in which African Americans through traffic stops, fines and fees were used as a revenue source for the city. That finding resulted a Justice Department investigation of Ferguson police.
It followed the fatal police shooting on Aug. 9 of 18-year-old Michael Brown by then-Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson resigned even though neither a state grand jury nor the Justice Department brought charges against him in Brown’s death.
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Ferguson erupted in several nights of protests, arrests and violence after Brown was slain. His death brought attention to slayings of other black males throughout the U.S. and helped inspire the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It will likely be an issue in the 2016 presidential election. Already two candidates have handled the growing concern badly.
Anderson had been with Glendale police for close to a quarter century. He steps into the Ferguson position as the city continues to heal from Brown’s death and the racial problems that had been an ongoing feature of the municipality.