It was almost six years ago that a white police officer shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, triggering public outrage, protests, and cementing the Black Lives Matters movement.
Now, the city has elected its first Black mayor and first woman mayor, Ella Jones.
Jones has served on the Ferguson city council since 2015 and she was the council’s first African-American member, according to KMOV-TV. She has worked as a chemist and church pastor at the African Methodist Episcopal Church, according to her campaign biography.
“I don’t get along to go along,” Jones said when she was elected the city council’s first African-American member. “If I see something that needs to be addressed, I will address it.”
In 2014, a grand jury declined to indict the white officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Brown. Brown and a friend were walking and they were approached by former officer Darren Wilson. Wilson told authorities he approached the men because they were blocking traffic. Within minutes, Wilson fatally shot Brown. Several witnesses said he had his hands up. This ignited protests around the U.S. Three years later, his family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Ferguson, WYFF4 reported.
The Brown murder weighed heavily on the Ferguson mayoral campaign. Both Jones, 65, and her opponent Heather Robinett, 49, vowed to continue changes enacted after the 2014 shooting, The New York Times reported. This included a federal consent decree and legally binding agreement requiring reforms to the police department.
Both candidates said they supported peaceful protests after the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis while condemning the violence that has broken out in cities around the U.S.
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“I’ve got work to do — because when you’re an African-American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart,” Jones said after her victory. A video of her speech was posted online by the journalist Jason Rosenbaum of St. Louis Public Radio. “I know the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we’re going to work together to get it done,” Jones said.
Jones, a resident of Ferguson for more than 40 years, won 54 percent of the vote, NY Times reported. She will succeed James Knowles III, who has been the mayor since 2011 and could not run for re-election because of term limits. Jones lost to Knowles in the 2017 mayoral election.