Ferguson, Missouri elects two black city councillors
Updated: 2015-04-08 16:39
A voter cast her ballot during the municipal elections at First Presbyterian Church in Ferguson, Missouri, April 7, 2015. [Photo/IC]
Residents elected a black man and a black woman to Ferguson's city council on Tuesday in the Missouri city's first municipal election since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teen, triggering months of sometimes violent protests.
Like the police force in Ferguson, two-thirds of whose residents are black, the city's leadership has long been dominated by whites.
Ferguson has about 21,000 residents but has had only two black councillors since its incorporation in 1894, including incumbent Dwayne James.
Eight candidates, including four African-Americans, were up for three seats in an election seen as critical to addressing the racially discriminatory practices that threw Ferguson into the spotlight when Michael Brown, 18, was shot dead in August.
The shooting spurred a national debate over police treatment of minorities, an issue given extra impetus when a white South Carolina officer was charged with murder on Tuesday after video showed him shooting at the back of a 50-year-old black man.
Voter turnout almost doubled to about 30 percent, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, despite a heavy thunderstorm.
The new black councillors are Ella Jones and Wesley Bell, a professor and judge who ran against another African-American in the ward where Brown lived, unofficial results showed. White former Ferguson mayor Brian Fletcher also won a seat.