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Lawsuit accuses St. Louis municipalities of targeting the poor

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ST. LOUIS (AP) – A federal lawsuit accuses 13 north St. Louis County municipalities of a coordinated police and court effort to target poor people, most of them black.

The nonprofit legal organization ArchCity Defenders and the law firm Arnold & Porter announced the suit Wednesday. It alleges that municipalities use fines and fees as a “money-making scheme.”

ArchCity Defenders director Thomas Harvey says the goal of the lawsuit is to end what he calls a “debtors’ prison” system.

The suit was filed Tuesday, the second anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The ensuing protests raised concerns about treatment of blacks in north St. Louis County. Several municipal court reforms have been instituted in th county and statewide following Brown’s death.

Ferguson is not named in the suit.

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