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Ferguson mayor re-elected in his first election after shooting
April 5, 2017 / 7:41 AM / 6 months ago

Ferguson mayor re-elected in his first election after shooting

FILE PHOTO: Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III engaged in a brief dialogue with opposition leaders in Ferguson, Missouri on August 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

(Reuters) - Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III was re-elected on Tuesday in his first election bid since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teen in his Missouri city that became a paradigm of racial profiling and police use of deadly force.

Knowles, who is white, won a third three-year term with 57 percent of the vote, defeating Councilwoman Ella Jones, according to preliminary election results posted on the county website.

“We all want the same thing,” Knowles said to the St. Louis Post Dispatch on Tuesday night. “We’re all here for the same purpose, which is our community.”

Jones would have become the city’s first black mayor, two years after she along with Wesley Bell, who is black, were elected to the city council during the first election after the shooting.

Knowles was mayor of Ferguson, a mostly black community of 21,000 residents, on Aug. 9, 2014, when white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black.

The shooting touched off a national debate on race, led to months of street protests and amplified long-standing complaints in Ferguson and across the country of police harassment and mistreatment of minorities. It also prompted Justice Department probes.

Knowles survived a recall attempt in 2015 along stiff criticism over what the U.S. Justice Department called widespread discriminatory practices in the police department and the municipal court.

Both the previous police chief and city manager resigned, as did Ferguson’s municipal judge in 2015.

A county grand jury declined to indict Wilson for Brown’s death and the U.S. Justice Department also declined to pursue charges against the officer, who resigned from the department.

A federal judge approved an agreement to reform Ferguson’s police department and municipal law code in 2016.

The agreement requires Ferguson provide its officers with bias-awareness training and implement an accountability system, city officials have said. The city also agreed police must ensure that stop, search and arrest practices are not discriminatory under law.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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