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Report: DOJ focusing on traffic stops in Ferguson

The Justice Department will soon release a report condemning the Ferguson, Mo., police department for actions that helped to foster bitterness within the city’s black community ahead of last year’s high-profile shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer, according to The New York Times.

{mosads}The report will point a finger at police for targeting black residents during traffic stops and using those fines to make up a significant portion of the budget, the newspaper reported. The Times reports that the Justice Department could release those findings this week. If the department doesn’t make clear strides to change its policies, it could face a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Racial tension in Ferguson came to a head last summer after then-officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in an altercation. A grand jury declined to charge Wilson, finding his use of force was justified. But many civil rights activists and others in the black community believe Wilson overreacted and that Brown didn’t pose a true threat to him.

The paper previously reported that the Justice Department will not charge Wilson for violating Brown’s civil rights, but the department hasn’t yet closed that case.

Last week, the agency closed a three-year investigation into a neighborhood watchman who shot and killed unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, announcing that George Zimmerman will not face federal civil rights charges.

Those charges hold a high burden of proof and since that decision, both Martin’s father and Attorney General Eric Holder called to re-evaluate hate crime standards.

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