More blacks hold public office and police hiring is being improved three years after Michael Brown’s killing provoked national outrage.
This week marks the third anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. Gone are the white police chief and the white city manager, replaced by African-American men, moves that reflect the makeup of a city where more than two-thirds of residents are black. The seven-member council has three African-American members, compared to one on Aug. 9, 2014, when Brown was killed, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’m the only one that is still here from that,” said Mayor James Knowles, who is white. He was re-elected in April, winning nearly 57 percent of the vote.
His election to a third term, he says, demonstrates that “I’ve worked to keep what’s right going and to make necessary changes.” Many changes, focused on improving police department hiring and training and court reform, came as a result of a Justice Department investigation and led to the city signing a consent decree with the federal government to make adjustments or face legal action. Attorney General Jeff Sessions order that Justice Department officials review consent decrees to ensure they do not interfere with the goals of President Trump to promote officer morale and safety has had no bearing on efforts in Ferguson. “Those particular statements by the attorney general were merely diversionary to issues they were dealing with in Washington — Russia and things of that nature,” said Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell, a lawyer and head of the criminal justice department at St. Louis Community College’s Florissant Valley campus.