FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX) – The Ferguson City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a mutual agreement for City Manager John Shaw to step down, effective immediately.
Shaw was not in attendance, but an open letter he wrote was distributed in which he says over the last several months, he has done everything in his power to work with groups to bring positive changes and strengthen the community.
“We have worked with state, regional and county organizations, our neighborhood associations, and both public and private institutions to develop programs and solutions aimed at overcoming our city’s most challenging obstacles to inclusion and opportunity,” Shaw’s letter states. “I have worked with the numerous activists and community leaders to make the city a true partner in prospects designed to move our community forward.”
Though the Department of Justice report on Ferguson’s policing policies and practices mentions Shaw several times, and he oversaw the police department during which several grievances were listed, Shaw says he worked closely with the department to identify ways for improvement, and worked quickly to implement recommendations for change.
“And while I certainly respect the work that the DOJ recently preformed in their investigations and report on the City of Ferguson, I must state clearly that my office has never instructed the police department to target African Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor. Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false,” the letter says.
His duties will be divided between various city departments, according to a news release from Ferguson Media Relations.
“We appreciate John’s service and commitment to the City of Ferguson for the past eight years,” Ferguson Mayor James Knowles says in the release. “The City Council and John Shaw feel as though it is the appropriate time for the City to move forward as it begins its search for a new City Manager.”
Richmond Heights City Manager Amy Hamilton stated on Twitter that she is “saddened” by Shaw’s resignation.
“He is a dynamic city manager with high ethics. It has become a witch hunt,” her tweet said.
I am saddened to read of John Shaw’s resignation tonight. He is a dynamic city manager with high ethics. It has become a witch hunt.
— Amy Hamilton (@amyhami) March 11, 2015
For others present at Tuesday’s meeting, Shaw’s resignation wasn’t enough.
Many who spoke during public comment asked for the mayor’s and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson’s resignation. Some likened the entire Ferguson city government to an infected wound that is spreading into the streets.
At times, civility at the meeting evaporated, with speakers and others in attendance yelling at one another, and comments drawing boos, jeers, or applause.
“Your children aren’t traumatized by this!” one woman yelled.
“My children don’t break the law!” a speaker retorted.
Despite the calls for Knowles and Jackson to step down, Knowles indicated that’s not likely.
“Somebody’s got to be here to keep things running,” Knowles told the press following the meeting. He added that Jackson’s job is not in question at this time.
The council met in a closed session following the public portion of the meeting.
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