Ferguson

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With the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, "Ferguson" became shorthand for racial strife and police shootings of unarmed black men.

But years before the protests and chants of "Hands up, don't shoot," there was something amiss in the Ferguson, Mo., police department.

Before Michael Brown, there was Fred Watson.

In 2014, James Knowles had just been re-elected mayor without opposition when one of his city's white police officers shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American. Knowles suddenly became the public face of Ferguson, Mo., a small town under intense scrutiny.

Some questioned whether Knowles would remain in his post. He did. And now, he is running for a third term.

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The shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old African-American man, by Charlotte, N.C., police is under investigation and the circumstances are very much in dispute, but when you listen to protesters, you hear that their frustration isn't about just this one case.

The horrific attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., has captured the nation's attention, but the great majority of homicides are not due to mass shootings.

And in the last year or so, the murder rate has jumped in America's big cities.

"We are in the midst of a very abrupt, precipitous and large crime increase," says Richard Rosenfeld, a respected criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is the author of a study released Wednesday by the Justice Department examining reasons for the increase.

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One month after the Department of Justice sued the city of Ferguson, Mo., for changing the terms of a consent decree to overhaul Ferguson's police and legal system, the city's mayor says it's time to accept the original agreement.

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the city of Ferguson, Mo., for unjust policing that violates the civil and constitutional rights of citizens, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Wednesday.

The lawsuit came one day after the Ferguson City Council voted to change a proposed consent decree to reform the police and courts. The council said the package, which had been negotiated between the DOJ and city officials, cost too much.

The city council of Ferguson, Mo., agreed late Monday to implement intensive changes to the city's police department and court system, under a consent decree negotiated by city officials with the U.S. Justice Department. But, concerned about the price tag, the council made some changes.

If Ferguson and the Justice Department don't agree on all the terms, federal prosecutors could file a civil rights lawsuit, which could prove more costly than the reforms, the Associated Press reported.

More than a year ago, 18-year-old Michael Brown's death in a police shooting roiled the small town of Ferguson, Mo., and sparked nationwide protests. Recovery and negotiations have been going on since then, but residents have different ideas about how the city should move forward.

Next week, a negotiated settlement between the city and the Justice Department overhauling the department's practices will come up for a city council vote.

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