A federal judge on Monday suspended Ferguson, Missouri school board elections because the process discriminates against African-American voters, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Sign Up For Our Newsletter!
About 80 percent of the 11,200 students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District are African-American, yet three of the seven school board members are Black, according to the newspaper.
U.S. District Judge Rodney W. Sippel said the discrimination is unintentional.
“Rather, it is my finding that the cumulative effects of historical discrimination, current political practices, and the socioeconomic conditions present in the district impact the ability of African-Americans in (the school system) to participate equally in Board elections,” Sippel’s ruling stated.
The school district applies the at-large voting system in a way that violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act, he wrote, directing officials to halt school board elections until they make changes to the voting system.
The Missouri chapters of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in 2014. They argued that the at-large system, in which voters are lumped into two or three large districts, dilutes the Black vote.
An at-large system sometimes weakens Black vote power because African-American populations are often geographically concentrated into a few large communities.
Sippel ordered the two sides to begin holding meetings to discuss ways to adjust the process.
The two sides are currently at loggerheads. Cindy Ormsby, the lawyer who represented the school district, told the Post-Dispatch that the at-large system “works best for African-American representation.”
Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards Association, added that it’s the “preferable system” statewide. Indeed, Kansas City is the only school district in the state that does not utilize an at-large system.
Photographic Proof Not Much Has Changed In Ferguson Since Michael Brown’s Death
1. 2014: Michael Brown’s lifeless body was left in the streets of Ferguson for more than four hours after he was killed by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9.Source:Getty 1 of 14
2. 2015: Tyrone Harris, 18, was shot in Ferguson Sunday night by police for allegedly attacking them with a firearm. He remains in critical condition and is facing four charges of first-degree assault on law enforcement, five counts of armed criminal action, and one count of discharging a firearm at a motor vehicle.Source:Getty 2 of 14
3. 2014: Unrest in Ferguson plagued the city after police officers clashed with protesters.Source:Getty 3 of 14
4. 2015: Police stand to maintain the crowd after shots rang out on the anniversary of Mike Brown’s death.Source:Getty 4 of 14
5. 2014: An unarmed protester was approached by police during protests in Ferguson. The image became one of the most memorable of the city’s uprising.Source:Getty 5 of 14
6. 2015: A woman stands before police with her hands up in the air.Source:Getty 6 of 14
7. 2014: After the shooting of Mike Brown and the death of Eric Garner, unrest continued to rise in Ferguson. After it was determined that Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the fatal shooting of the teen, protesters took to the streets.Source:Getty 7 of 14
8. 2015: Since the death of Brown, over 100 men, women, and children of color have been killed by police. Worldwide protests have continued advocating for better training for police officers.Source:Getty 8 of 14
9. 2014: A woman hit with pepper spray is doused with milk. Ferguson police issued curfews for protesters after incidents of arson and looting occurred during peaceful protests in the city.Source:Getty 9 of 14
10. 2015: A year later, protesters say they too were hit with tear gas while protesting in the streets.Source:Getty 10 of 14
11. 2014: The National Guard was called into Ferguson to “control” protests.Source:Getty 11 of 14
12. 2015: A teen is caught in the crossfire during a shooting that took place in Ferguson on the anniversary of Mike Brown’s death.Source:Getty 12 of 14
13. 2014: Army tanks filled the streets of Ferguson after protests turned violent in the city.Source:Getty 13 of 14
14. 2015: St. Louis police with army gear arrive in Ferguson Sunday night.Source:Getty 14 of 14
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch| PHOTO CREDIT: Getty