FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The Justice Department sued Ferguson on Wednesday, one day after the City Council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving the way police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Ferguson's decision to reject the deal left the Justice Department no choice except to file a civil rights lawsuit.

"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for the city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe. ... They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer," Lynch said at a Washington press conference.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in St. Louis.

It alleges that Ferguson officials use illegal practices in conducting stops, searches and arrests; by using excessive force; by interfering with the right to free expression; in the prosecution and resolution of municipal charges; and in discriminating against African-Americans.

The suit asks the court to force the city "to adopt and implement policies, procedures and mechanisms that identify, correct and prevent the unlawful conduct."

Ferguson leaders "had a real opportunity here to step forward, and they've chosen to step backward," Lynch said.

Ferguson spokesman Jeff Small declined to comment.

Messages left with Mayor James Knowles III were not returned.

Ferguson has been under Justice Department scrutiny since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson 18 months ago.

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