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Federal Findings Don't Surprise Ferguson Protesters

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We are going to turn now to Emanuele Berry, who is with St. Louis Public Radio. She's been getting reactions from people who are involved in the demonstrations in Ferguson. And good morning.

EMANUELE BERRY, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: What are you hearing?

BERRY: I'm hearing from a lot of people, yeah, we already knew. We knew that there was systematic discrimination going on by police. There are already statistics collected by the Missouri attorney general's office, you know, which document, you know, stops and arrest and also document the race of those individuals. There are a bunch of advocacy groups which have been working to address these issues in St. Louis and in the region for years. And, you know, there's all the protesters who are out there because they were living this experience of police discrimination.

So a lot of people are like, yeah, this is what we've been saying all along. But at the same time, people are glad and people are hopeful. Here's a comment from Justin Hansford, a St. Louis University law professor who was in Ferguson as a legal observer. And his thoughts are kind of similar to a lot of what I'm hearing.

JUSTIN HANSFORD: It's like being told that water is wet. We already knew all of these tendencies were in existence. We've experienced it firsthand. But we're hoping that it creates a new norm and a new standard for what is good or bad policing in society.

MONTAGNE: So there you go, a law professor speaking. If everyone expected the report to say something like this, why does it matter that it's coming from the Justice Department?

BERRY: I think in a way for some people, you know, it feels like validation. It's, you know, a formal federal government body acknowledging these people's experience. In a way, it's also something that people hope has actual teeth for change.

You know, we've been talking about these issues for years and years and years. But to have something that could actually create change, to have some accountability measures put in place, you know, for police in Ferguson - and not just police in Ferguson. People are talking - people are talking about this being an example for police in the region and police in the United States. But at the same time, they're also kind of skeptical about what this change actually looks like and how it will actually happen. This is Alexis Templeton. She's with the group Millennial Activists United and she's been active in protests since August.

ALEXIS TEMPLETON: We've been screaming and yelling and hooping and hollering, but now you finally heard us, and you've written your report about the things that people have been hooping and hollering and yelling about. So what's after that? And that's where the next part of victory comes in, is the action behind the report.

MONTAGNE: Well, so there was a protester. But how are the local and state governments reacting to this report?

BERRY: So far, there's been no comment. The DOJ briefed officials in Ferguson yesterday on the report. And Ferguson officials say they were told by the Department of Justice that the report would be, you know, released to the public officially sometime this afternoon. In a statement released, the city said that they are currently reviewing the report's findings and that they will release an official statement sometime today.

MONTAGNE: Reporter Emanuele Berry joined us from St. Louis Public Radio. Thanks very much.

BERRY: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.