In a historic political victory for Ferguson and for African Americans in America, Councilwoman Ella Jones became the first woman and first Black woman to represent the predominately black suburb of St. Louis, Missouri as Mayor.
Her election as mayor comes on the heels of a country in turmoil following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the continuous use of violence by police on black Americans.
Many prominent public figures reached out in support of Ella Jones including former President Barack Obama. In a tweet, he said: “Second, a reminder of the difference politics and voting can make in changing who has the power to make real change in a community like Ferguson with a history of blatant discriminatory law enforcement practices.”
Speaking to Chris Cuomo of CNN, Mayor-incumbent Jones expressed her desire to see that police departments in Ferguson are working with the people, not against them. She said, “It is crucial that police officers work with communities to make people feel that they are being served, instead of being hunted.”
When speaking of her role as an advocate for citizens, Jones said, “The people want change...and they believe that I am a change agent…I symbolize hope, and that the people will have a voice, and the people will feel like they're included.”
Ella Jones' victory represents a much larger, growing effort to change the way law enforcement is enacted in America.
According to a recent report from USA Today, several major cities around the nation including Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles are finally listening to their communities and discussing options for reforming local law enforcement agencies. Many are exploring options to de-fund and dismantle their police departments or re-organize them in light of current events including national protests and demonstrations calling for substantial change.
The report showed that the majority of the City Council in Minneapolis wants to disband their police departments. Lisa Bender, Council President said, "It is clear that our system of policing is not keeping our communities safe...Our efforts at incremental reform have failed, period.”
Also, according to USA Today, Los Angeles Mayor agreed to cut department spending by at least 150 million and New York City Mayor spoke of relocating funds to social services and youth initiatives.
The United States as a whole has a long way to go, but reform must begin at the local level, and the election of Ella Jones is a powerful indicator that change is on the horizon.