Ferguson, Missouri, the city that made national headlines after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager – touching off massive protests – just elected Ella Jones to be its first black mayor.
The St. Louis suburb was the site of massive protests following the 2014 shooting. Now Jones will lead it as the whole country is seeing large-scale demonstrations against police brutality and racism following the death of George Floyd, though some of those demonstrations have also escalated into violent riots.
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“It’s just our time,” Jones, 65, said Tuesday night, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
Jones, currently a city council member, will also be the first female mayor of Ferguson when she takes office later this month. She ran against fellow council member Heather Robinett. Incumbent mayor James Knowles III could not run again due to term limits. Jones had previously lost to Knowles in 2017.
The Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown prompted a Justice Department investigation that resulted in a consent agreement reached in 2016 that requires significant changes in the city, including municipal court reforms, community policing efforts, hiring more minority officers and improved policies in areas such as use of body cameras and search and seizure practices.
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Prior to the election, both Jones and Robinett said that if elected they would help Ferguson continue implementing the changes outlined in the agreement.
The 2014 protests in Ferguson boosted the profile of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose rallying cry has been front and center during the current protests over Floyd’s death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.