The mother of Ferguson police shooting victim Michael Brown may soon have the responsibility of observing the very agency that was responsible for her son’s death as she seeks election to the city council on Tuesday.
Lesley McSpadden, 39, will face incumbent Keith Kallstrom and local activist Fran Griffin in an election for Ferguson’s 3rd Ward council position. Voters will select new city council members in three of the St. Louis suburb’s six wards.
Brown was shot and killed in August 2014 by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who claimed Brown attacked during an altercation. In November of 2014, a grand jury decided not to charge him, resulting in protests throughout Ferguson and the St. Louis area. A wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Ferguson filed by McSpadden and Brown’s father, Michael Sr., was settled for $1.5 million in 2017.
While McSpadden has not held political office previously, she has been active as a group of women known as the “Mothers of the Movement,” all of whom have lost children to police violence. Each of them appeared prominently during Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. That same year she also testified to Missouri Senate in favor of an expansion of body cameras on officers.
McSpadden aims to continue to impact how police interact with citizens and to strengthen the relationship between the two in a fractured community.
The incumbent Kallstrom has his own plans for the Ferguson Police Department, which includes increasing funding to retain officers. He also has detailed his efforts to cooperate with the Justice Department and their consent agreement.
Aside from her opposing candidates, McSpadden does face criticism from others in the community regarding her bid for city council. LaTasha Brown, president of the Southeast Ferguson Neighborhood Association, does not believe McSpadden is the proper person to take the position and criticized her approach in her campaign by stating she has not reached the people.
“The 3rd Ward needs somebody who’s going to mingle with the people,” Brown said. “You can’t make change from a distance. If you don’t know what your constituents are going through if you’re not there to hear what they’re saying, how can you lead these people and make decisions for these people?”