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WASHINGTON: The Ferguson city manager left his post today after a scathing US Justice Department report found a culture of racism in the St. Louis suburb’s police department and municipal offices.

Ferguson, in Missouri, sprang to international prominence in August when a white policeman shot dead an unarmed black teenager, provoking sometimes violent protests and soul-searching in the United States.

City manager John Shaw came under renewed pressure last week to quit when an official report found that Ferguson police routinely targeted African Americans.

The Ferguson City Council voted unanimously on “a mutual separation agreement with Shaw, effective immediately,” it said in a statement.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my separation from the city of Ferguson as city manager. After much thought and prayer, I feel it is in the community’s best interest that I step aside at this time,” Shaw said.

But he rejected the federal report’s charge of racism.

“My office has never instructed the police department to target African Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor,” Shaw said.

“Any inferences of that kind from the report are simply false.”

Shaw’s duties will be divided between various departments within Ferguson pending a replacement.

A city manager – the top appointed official – is responsible for the day-to-day supervision and management of all services of a city.

“We appreciate John’s service and commitment to the city of Ferguson for the past eight years,” said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles.

“The City Council and John Shaw feel as though it is the appropriate time for the city to move forward as it begins its search for a new city manager.”

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder warned that he was prepared to dismantle the Ferguson Police Department.--AFP

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