DOJ bans media, non-residents from future Ferguson town hall meetings

After Ferguson, Mo., issued a press release promoting five town hall meetings to address concerns of the community, the Department of Justice informed the city that no media or non-residents would be allowed to attend.

“This was not and never was a decision made by the City and it will be up to DOJ to enforce it if that is their policy,” Ferguson spokesman Devin James wrote in an email to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “The City simply wants to do what’s in the best interest of residents so they can have the opportunity to have meaningful dialogue.”

The meetings are being conducted by the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, which generally handles conflict resolution, but it is “required by law to conduct its activities in confidence and without publicity.”

Adding to the confusion, one of the three meetings to be held on Monday was canceled hours before it was planned to begin.

“Due to concerns that residents were confused about which ward meeting to attend as well as limited resources concerning the safety and security measures we will no longer host the meetings based on wards and have eliminated the planned meeting at City Hall to simplify things for residents,” an email to reporters read.

While the Ferguson spokesperson said that they would not be enforcing the Community Relations Service “ban,” Ferguson police were checking IDs at the door at the two remaining meetings, according to the Huffington Post.

A Ferguson resident was asked to leave after attempting to record one meeting, but was allowed to return when he promised not to continue, the Huffington Post reported.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service to the city after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in August by a city police officer to help resolve racial tension.

Town Hall Meeting Schedule issued by Ferguson via the Washington Post:


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