Lesley McSpadden, Mike Brown's Mother, Loses Race For Ferguson City Council Seat
"I wanted to go back and do something right in a place that did something so very wrong to my son," she said.
Lesley McSpadden, the mother of the late Michael Brown, lost her campaign for a spot on the city council of Ferguson, Missouri, on Tuesday.
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McSpadden made a run to enter politics almost five years after her son was gunned down by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson walked free after a grand jury decided against an indictment.
"I wanted to go back and do something right in a place that did something so very wrong to my son, and I think that's what my son would want as well," McSpadden told The Associated Press.
Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Mike Brown Jr honored me with taking her photos. During the shoot, I asked her if she would feel comfortable taking a photo at the spot where her son laid. She hesitated but said yes.— Ohun Ashe (@Ohun_Ashe) March 21, 2019
So here she is, through all of that pain, still standing. pic.twitter.com/cBXBUHz2dU
McSpadden only earned 20% of votes during Tuesday's election and lost to Fran Griffin, a fellow Black mother, Vox reports.
She hoped to improve the police department’s relationship with the community.
"I think they should work much harder to prove that they are there to protect and serve, because no one believed that in August 2014 and people are still skeptical,” she said.
McSpadden also wanted to help residents work through their trauma.
“My first priority is the mental health and wellness of not only myself but others. And what happened on Aug. 9, the trauma that followed with that, I’m very concerned about the mental wellness of those folks,” McSpadden told St. Louis Public Radio.
“Not only have they grown four years older, but that has stayed with them. And we want to see people able to move forward.”
McSpadden ran against two other candidates, incumbent Keith Kallstrom and Griffin. Fran Griffin is a former president of Ferguson’s parks and recreations board and served on two subcommittees for the Neighborhood Policing Steering Committee, the organization overseeing the reform of the police department. She refused to criticize McSpadden because she believes her experience speaks for itself.
“One thing they know is that I have been active. I’ve been trying to get people to get involved in Ferguson,” Griffin said. “There’s a small number of us who are engaged in trying to make the change.”
Kallstrom was the council’s longest-serving member, and had he won, it would have been his fourth and last stint due to term limits.
“So whoever wants to fill my seat after I’m gone, it’ll be wide open,” he said.
Like Griffin, he had nothing bad to say about McSpadden.
“I’m going for the seat, not against anybody,” Kallstrom said. “As I’ve done in seven other elections, and I’ll do it that way in this one. I’m hoping to counter [McSpadden’s name recognition] by my name recognition being out there. Over 25 years, I’ve been representing residents out there. So I’m hoping that my name recognition and the good work I do and have done gets recognized by the voters.”
LaTasha Brown, president of the Southeast Ferguson Neighborhood Association, didn't believe McSpadden was ready.
“Most common thing I hear is, 'Where is she? How can she run in the community if she’s not here?'” Brown said. “She’s not engaged. Part of the problem is, we weren’t engaged with our city politics or how decisions were made.”
McSpadden disagreed and cited her activism since her son’s death.
“My voice in particular — from the moment that I found out my son was laying in the street and every hour after then that I gave an interview and I talked to people and brought on that DOJ investigation — that shined a light on Ferguson and their violation of everyone’s civil rights in that moment,” McSpadden said. “Me as Michael Brown’s mother, I played a big part in that.”
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