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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 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.
Breonna Taylor must not be forgotten. The family of the 26-year-old EMT who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March, released a statement encouraging peaceful protests and the continued fight for justice.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear read the statement from Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, on CNN on Friday (May 29).
“Breonna devoted her own life to saving other lives, to helping others, to making people smile, and to bringing people together,” the statement reads. “The last thing she’d want right now is any more violence. Changes are being made, but it’s not enough. We will not stop until there is truth, justice and accountability. Breonna’s legacy will not be forgotten. And it’s because of all of us saying her name and demanding justice. We are saying her name more each day. Thank you.
“Please keep saying her name. Please keep demanding justice and accountability, but let’s do it the right way without hurting each other. We can, and we will make some real change here. Now’s the time. Let’s make it happen.”
Seven people were shot during a protest for Taylor in Louisville on Thursday (May 28). The shooting victims were treated and are in stable condition, according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher. Fisher also reposted a video message from Taylor’s family urging peace amid the protests.
A message from Breonna Taylor’s family urging protestors to be peaceful, go home and keep fighting for truth. pic.twitter.com/if5MH5UcCW
— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) May 29, 2020
On March 13, 2020, Louisville police officers kicked in Taylor’s door without warning and opened fire. Authorities claim that they were executing a “no-knock” search warrant stemming from an alleged drug investigation involving another man who did not live in Taylor’s home, and had already been arrested.
“Police just unloaded 25 to 30 rounds, I mean they’re shooting from the front door, they’re shooting from the window, they’re shooting from the patio,” attorney Benjamin Crump told Essence on Friday. “They’re so reckless, they shoot a bullet into the next door neighbor’s apartment where their five-year-old daughter is asleep in her room. “They didn’t even have to come in her [Taylor's] apartment. They already had the person they were searching for in custody.”
Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the LMPD accusing the department of excessive force and gross negligence. In wake of Taylor’s murder going public, LMPD has changed its policy and will now require no-knock warrants to have a police chief’s signature. The department also made it mandatory for LMPD officers to wear body cameras.
A 911 call made by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, after the shooting was made public on Thursday. “I don’t know what’s happening somebody kicked in the door and shot my girlfriend,” Walker can be heard saying through tears. Police arrested Walker for shooting at cops whom he assumed were robbers. The charges were later dropped.
Listen to the emotional 911 call below.