POLITICS

Ferguson City Manager John Shaw Resigns

03/10/2015 09:52 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2015

John Shaw, the city manager of Ferguson, Missouri, who oversaw city agencies that the Department of Justice accused of systematically discriminating against African-American residents, has resigned.

Shaw's resignation was announced at a meeting of the Ferguson City Council Tuesday evening. The council voted 7-0 to approve a mutual separation agreement , according to a statement distributed at the meeting.

A scathing Justice Department report last week accused Ferguson of using local police and courts to generate revenue instead of safeguarding citizens, a practice the investigators said fell heaviest on African-Americans. The department probe began after unrest in the wake of a Ferguson police officer's killing of unarmed Michael Brown, 18, in August.

The report details numerous instances in which Shaw seemed thrilled that revenue from court fees and fines was rising. When Shaw was told that gross revenue for 2012 had exceeded $2 million for the first time, the report said he responded by saying, "Awesome! Thanks!"

Shaw, who had been city manager since 2007, said in a statement that he had worked to better Ferguson.

"I have done everything in my power to work with countless groups to bring about positive change and strengthen our community," Shaw said. "Although I am stepping down from my role as city manager, as a resident of Ferguson, I stand ready to assist in any way I can to help for the community's future."

The room was packed to capacity for Tuesday's meeting, and the crowd was equally divided between those who were in support of the city's leadership and those who wanted to clean house. At one point, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles had to use his gavel to calm a rowdy room after a woman led her public comment by saying, "First of all, I'd like to say most of you in this room owe Darren Wilson an apology."

"The honorable Mayor James Knowles III, resign from the position of mayor ... we cannot describe how disgusted we are with you," one resident read aloud during the public speaking portion of the meeting. Her request was followed by a large round of applause from the audience.

There was an audible gasp at the announcement of Shaw's resignation. Some people cheered, while others shook their heads in disapproval.

Knowles took questions from the media after the event, saying that he plans to continue on his position as mayor. "Someone's got to be here to take care of business. I'm absolutely committed to making sure we go through that report," he said.

Knowles said Assistant City Manager Pam Hylton will continue to take on administrative duties as the city conducts a national search for a new city manager. He did not take responsibility for the practices noted in the Justice Department report, and referenced himself as a city council member rather than as mayor.

Each incident outlined in the report needs to be looked at individually, Knowles said.

"Ultimately, we have to go through the report and find out what was the safeguard issue in place, what was the procedure, and who was responsible," he said.

Shaw is the fifth person named in the Justice Department report to lose his job.

Ferguson Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer, who allegedly turned Ferguson's municipal court into a city cash cow, resigned Monday. Ferguson Municipal Court Clerk Mary Ann Twitty was fired last week over racist emails. In addition, two police department officials resigned last week, including one who supervised Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown.

Ferguson's city manager is appointed by city council to an indefinite term and supervises all city departments, including the police department. Shaw also was responsible for nominating the municipal judge appointed by city council vote.

Mariah Stewart contributed reporting. This story has been updated with more information from Tuesday's Ferguson City Council meeting.

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