Michael Brown’s mother is running for office in Ferguson, Missouri. Here’s why
(CNN) — Standing near the spot where her son was gunned down, Michael Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, announced she is running for city council in Ferguson, Missouri.
“Almost four years ago to this day, I ran down this very street, and my son was covered in a sheet. It broke me, you know. It brought me down to my knees and made me feel crippled, as if I could do nothing else anymore,” McSpadden said Friday during a news conference.
“I learned to walk again,” she said, “and this is one of my first steps.”
Brown, then 18 and unarmed, was gunned down in 2014 by a white police officer while walking home from a convenience store. His death sparked nationwide protests, helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement and, now, has fueled his mother’s political ambition.
If elected, McSpadden would focus on community policing, economic equality and access to health care for all of Ferguson’s young children, she said. She’d also work to rebuild the relationship between the police and residents of the St. Louis-area city of about 20,000 people, nearly two-thirds of them African-American.
“I’m not going to give up, and when I’m elected, I will be the people’s voice — and not just the people’s choice,” she said.
McSpadden also had a message for those who may question her qualifications.
“I’ll tell you, if a mother had to watch her son lay in the street for four and a half hours and watch a community be completely disrespected by elected officials that we elected, what would you do?” she asked. “You would stand up and you would fight, too.”
Attention back in Ferguson
McSpadden’s announcement comes days after the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, who oversaw the grand jury inquiry into Brown’s killing, was ousted in the Democratic primary.
Robert McCulloch was criticized for how he handled the investigation into Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown.
Wilson was never charged in connection with the case, which eventually touched off a Justice Department probe that accused the police department of systematic racial bias. The Justice Department also said its investigation did not support federal civil rights charges against Wilson.
Wesley Bell, a Ferguson city council member, defeated McCulloch, a seven-term incumbent. He is poised to take over from McCulloch because there is no Republican in the race.
McSpadden said she supports Bell.
“I don’t think we’ll have to hold his feet to the fire,” McSpadden said, drawing a distinction between Bell and officials who held office in the aftermath of his son’s death.
Bell said he would’ve appointed a special prosecutor in Brown’s case to avoid conflicts of interest.
“There is a relationship between the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement,” Bell told CNN this week. “I, as a municipal court prosecutor, I work with officers all the time, some of my best friends are officers. And so there is an inherent conflict of interest because if you tell me one of my friends committed a crime, I think anyone just naturally is going to disbelieve it.”