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Ella Jones became Ferguson’s first Black mayor following Tuesday’s (June 2) election. Winning 59.9% percent of the vote, Jones beat out opponent and fellow Ferguson City Councilwoman Heather Robinett. The victory also makes Jones the city’s first female mayor.
“It’s just our time,” Jones, 65, said in a post-election interview with the St. Louis Dispatch. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
Ferguson gained worldwide attention in 2014 after Ferguson police shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, and the fight for justice hasn't stopped. Most recently, residents took to the streets amid the coronavirus pandemic to protest the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other police brutality victims.
“In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, our restaurants, our businesses were closed, and now they were trying to open up and we have the protests, so it set a lot of businesses back,” she told the St. Louis American. “So, I am just reaching out to various partners to see how we can best help these businesses recover from the protests and open. We don’t want to lose any of our businesses, because they are the cornerstone of our community, and when we lose one, it just hurts all. My goal is to work, talk to anyone that will listen, to help stabilize these businesses in Ferguson.”
Jones previously ran for mayor in 2017 but lost to incumbent James Knowles III, who served as mayor for three terms.
The former pastor has called Ferguson home for more than 40 years. A graduate from the University of Missouri at St. Louis with a degree in chemistry, Jones obtained a certification a high pressure liquid chromatographer and completed training as a pharmacy technician. Jones' background includes working in Washington University School of Medicine's biochemistry molecular bio-physics department, and as an analytical chemist for KV Pharmaceutical Company, as well as a Mary Kay, where she was a sales director for 30 years before quitting to work in the community full time.
Jones is also the founder and chairperson of the nonprofit community development organization, Community Forward, Inc., and a member of the Boards of the Emerson Family YMCA, and the St. Louis MetroMarket, the latter of which is a decommissioned bus that was retrofitted as a mobile farmers’ market that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved communities.
Hear more from Jones in the video below.
Former President Barack Obama joined local and national leaders for a digital town hall on Wednesday (June 3). The 90-minute event put on by the Obama Foundation's My Brother's Keeper Alliance was centered around “reimagining policing in the wake of continued violence.”
“Let me start by just acknowledging that we have seen, in the last few months, the kinds of epic changes and events in our country that are as profound as anything that I’ve seen in my life,” said Obama. “Although all of us have been feeling pain and certain disruption, some folks have been feeling it more than others. Most of all the pain that’s been experienced by the families [of] George [Floyd], Breonna [Taylor], Ahmaud [Arbury], Tony [McDade], Sean [Reade], and too many others to mention.”
To the families directly affected by racial violence and police brutality Obama added, “Please know that Michelle and I, and the nation grieve with you, hold you in our prayers. We're committed to the fight of creating a more just nation in the memory of your sons and daughters.”
The ex-commander in chief went on to speak about institutional racism, and what he believes to be the bright side to the recent tragedies, namely in that young people have been galvanized and mobilized into taking action. “Historically so much of the progress that we’ve made in our society [have] been because of young people. Dr. King was a young man, Ceasar Chavez was a young man, Malcolm X was a young man. The leaders of the feminist movement, union movements, the environmentalist movements, and the movement to make sure that the LGBTQ community had a voice, were young people.”
Obama also addressed the “young men and women of color” around the country, who have witnessed too much violence and death. “I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter. That your dreams matter.”
Other town hall participants included, activist and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Playon Patrick, Ohio State University student and MBK Youth leader for the city of Columbus.
Additional town hall participants included, activist and writer Brittany Packnett Cunningham, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., Color of Change President Rashad Robinson and Playon Patrick, Ohio State University student and MBK Youth leader for the city of Columbus.
Watch the full event below.
Former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin now faces unintentional second-degree murder for killing George Floyd, Minneapolis Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday (June 3). The upgraded charge was revealed along with charges against three more former MPD officers involved in Floyd's murder.
“Today I filed an amended complaint that charges Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with murder in the second degree. I believe the evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second degree murder,” Ellison said during a news conference.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kuen, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence.
“This is absolutely a team effort,” added Ellison. “We are working collectively on this case with one goal: justice for George Floyd.”
Minnesota classifies second-degree murder as “intentional” and “unintentional.” A second-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Chauvin, the officer filmed with his knee in Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, was originally charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. An independent autopsy determined that Floyd died from “asphyxia due to neck and back compression.”
The other three officers are in “the process” of being taken into custody and could face up to 40 years on the first count and 10 years on the second count, if convicted.
Despite cell phone footage and witnesses, Ellison acknowledged the uphill battle of convicting police officers. “Winning a conviction will be hard. It’s not because we doubt our resources or abilities but history does show that there are challenges.”
Former police officer Mohamed Noor is the first and only cop in Minnesota's history to be convicted of murder for killing a civilian on the job.