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Legal advocates call for amnesty from Ferguson warrants

Catherine Martin//August 26, 2014//

Legal advocates call for amnesty from Ferguson warrants

Catherine Martin//August 26, 2014//

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The funeral for Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot Aug. 9 by a white police officer in Ferguson, was held Monday, but legal advocates are still working to help others in the St. Louis suburb, including a plea for amnesty for people with outstanding warrants.

Advocates from the Washington University School of Law, along with other legal advocates, sent a letter to Ferguson Mayor James Knowles asking the city to “immediately grant amnesty to all individuals with outstanding warrants from its municipal court.” The letter lists a variety of reasons to grant amnesty, such as outstanding warrants hindering youths from getting jobs.

Mae Quinn, a Washington University law professor and director of the school’s juvenile law and justice clinic, said warrants, fines and fees are “an impediment for many members of the St. Louis County community” who want to “just get on with their lives.”

“It is our hope that this request will be granted, as it is not only a legally sound decision, but it’s a tremendous demonstration of humanitarian concern and a step in the direction of healing for the community,” Quinn said.

The letter echoes a similar statement released Friday by Saint Louis University law professors and legal group Arch City Defenders asking Knowles to “remit all outstanding fines from non-violent offenses in their entirety and cancel any warrants associated with those offenses” and to “pardon all pending unassessed cases alleging non-violent offenses and recall any warrants associated with those cases.”

A phone message left with Knowles’ office Tuesday seeking a response to the letters was not immediately returned.

Professors from both law schools also released a statement last week highlighting a number of issues, including a “nationwide problem of the death of, and violence against, youths in communities of color,” militarized policing tactics and a need for more police training and accountability.

A total of 45 people from a variety of organizations signed the statement. SLU Law Professor Patricia Lee said she thinks each person who signed hopes to address issues such as the nationwide problem of “violence against youth in communities of color” in their own way.

“We’re hoping for some answers … in a variety of areas” such as questions surrounding police training and accountability, Lee said. “We’re hoping to at least be able to be part of the solution to address … these particular concerns.”

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