Oleksii Liskonih/iStockBy TENZIN SHAKYA, ABC NEWS
(FERGUSON, Mo.) — As thousands protest around the country — and around the world — for George Floyd, the black man killed by police who’s become synonymous with a fight for justice and against police brutality and systemic racism, the first black female mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, opened up about the incident — and how it could affect her city.
Ella Jones, a city council member and mayor elect of the city where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer nearly six years ago, discussed with ABC News’ Byron Pitts the charges against the ex-Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s untimely death.
“He should be charged — even after Floyd telling him he can’t breathe, you continue to put pressure on his neck. And he seemed like he didn’t care because he had his hands in the pocket, so that new charge should fit him very well,” Jones said, referring to former officer Derek Chauvin, whose initial third-degree murder and manslaughter charge was elevated to a count of second-degree murder on Wednesday.
“The other officers, they were just standing around, and they should be charged too, because they had an opportunity to stop it and they did not stop what the officer was doing,” Jones added.
Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao each have been charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder and second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter, according to court documents.
Chauvin was in jail on $500,000 bond. Lane, Kueng and Thao on Thursday were remanded with bail of up to $1 million, which could be reduced to $750,000 if specific conditions are met.
Jones also served as the first black female city council member over the last five years, during which Ferguson residents were protesting in the streets, demanding justice for the killing of Michael Brown, who was unarmed. She was sworn in the following year, 2015. A month after, officials announced no charges would be filed against Darren Wilson, the white officer who killed Brown, due to lack of evidence.
“The police are supposed to be supposed to protect and serve. And then when you get to the point that you stop protecting and serving the people, then it’s time for you to move on,” she said.
As the country calls for healing and rooting out racial injustice, even years after Brown’s death, Jones’ community is still on the road to recovery.
“Ferguson is still in the healing process, and so it’s going to take time, it’s going to take a lot of conversation,” she explained. “It’s going to take the police officers having the opportunity to talk to the protesters — the police officers, they must make the first step.”
When asked if the U.S. has reached a tipping point, she explained that “we can reconcile our pasts” but reiterated that law enforcement needs to engage first.
Jones said the George Floyd incident has transcended Minneapolis, and she sees it as a teachable moment.
“The lessons that we learned here is that we started with courageous conversations — people, neighbors coming together, trying to figure out how we can bridge the gap. And it’s very important that you continue the work on race relations,” Jones said. “The police should get out of their cars and start talking to the people and treating them with respect.”
Jones said Ferguson is still hopeful and will continue to move forward, and that her election is an example of that.
“It is a part of the healing process. The African American community decided that enough is enough and that they will go on to work together and make a difference in their community,” she said. “You have to elect leaders who care about the people and not about to title. It makes a difference.”
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