FERGUSON (AP) — Ferguson, which became synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, has sworn in its first black mayor.
Ella Jones, 65, defeated City Council colleague Heather Robinette, who is white, 54 percent to 46 percent to win the three-year term in an election on June 2. Term limits prohibited the incumbent, James Knowles III, from seeking a fourth term.
Jones was sworn in Tuesday night at City Hall, and a second ceremony was planned for Wednesday at the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis office in Ferguson.
She inherits leadership of one of America’s most high-profile small towns.
Brown, 18, was fatally shot by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson during a street confrontation on Aug. 9, 2014. Some people near the scene initially said the black teenager had his arms up in surrender, and protests lasted for months.
Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing by both a St. Louis County grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice, and he resigned in November 2014. But a Justice Department investigation of Ferguson’s police and court practices led to a consent agreement requiring significant reforms that are still ongoing.
Ferguson was the site of renewed protests this month, after George Floyd’s death in Minnesota. Floyd was a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving.
More than a dozen Ferguson businesses were damaged in the latest round of protests, and Jones has said that one of her first priorities will be to seek grants to help those businesses recover.
Jones was elected to the council in 2015 and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2017.