Ella Jones was elected the first black mayor in Ferguson during a time of unprecedented protest against racism and police brutality
The last eight days have been filled with protests, riots, and an unprecedented public outcry against racism and police brutality. But before the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, there were countless other black Americans brutalized and killed by the police. In 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, there was Michael Brown, a black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer. The event sparked protests in Ferguson and beyond.
And now, Ferguson has its first-ever black mayor.
Ella Jones won her election in the Missouri city Tuesday, beating out her opponent, Heather Robinett, with 54 percent of the vote. Jones is also the first-ever woman elected mayor in Ferguson.
Jones, who is a Ferguson City Council members, watched her election victory unfold as another night of protests took place across the United States, including in her own city. During her campaign, Jones vowed that she would continue changes to the city’s police department that were enacted after Brown’s senseless death in 2014, including a federal consent decree, which imposed federally required reforms. Jones also spoke out in support of the protests that are taking place currently, both in Ferguson and in other cities all across the country.
“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 in a speech after her election win. “I know the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we’re going to work together to get it done.”
Jones unseats James Knowles III, who has been the mayor in Ferguson since 2011. She lost to him in the 2017 election.
“If you’ve been oppressed so long, it’s hard for you to break out to a new idea,” she said at the time. “And when you’ve been governed by fear and people telling you that the city is going to decline because an African-American person is going to be in charge, then you tend to listen to the rhetoric and don’t open your mind to new possibilities.”
But Jones has been a Ferguson resident for more than 40 years. She was the first black woman ever elected to the city council in 2015. She knows the city’s history and heartbreak. Amid so much uncertainty, Ferguson is beginning to look like hope for change that could be coming.
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