Lezley McSpadden, whose son Michael Brown’s killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 set off months of protests and helped start the Black Lives Matter movement, on Friday announced her intention to run for the city council in 2019.
McSpadden made the announcement on Canfield Drive, NBC reported, near where her 18-year-old son, who was unarmed, was shot by Darren Wilson four years ago.
“Almost four years ago to this day, I ran down this very street and my son was covered in a sheet,” McSpadden said, pausing as her voice cracked. “It broke me, you know. It brought me down to my knees and made me feel crippled as if I could do nothing else anymore from that moment.”
But her decision to run, she said, was showing that she has “learned to walk again.”
“And this is one of my first steps,” she said.
Brown’s killing remains a lingering wound amid the emotional debate about race and policing that it in large part helped bring to prominence. McSpadden was a visible presence after her son’s death, appearing at protests, and vigils and in emotional tones in the media.
“You took my son away from me,” she told a local television station at the time. “You know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level, where they feel like they don’t got nothing to live for anyway. … ‘They’re going to try to take me out anyway.’ ”
Her candidacy comes as the country continues to grapple with questions about police use of force exposed by her son’s shooting. Earlier this year, the shooting of another unarmed black man, Stephon Clark in Sacramento, touched off weeks of protests. According to The Washington Post’s database, 625 people have been fatally shot by police in 2018.
Attention is back on Ferguson, too, where on Tuesday, Wesley Bell, a black city council member, defeated St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch in a Democratic primary. McCulloch is white, had held the office since 1991, and was sharply criticized for the investigation that ended with a grand jury’s decision not to charge Wilson.
McCulloch’s defeat has renewed attention on calls for charges against Wilson. McSpadden started an online petition for the governor to appoint a special prosecutor in the case. The petition has more than 16,000 signatures.
McSpadden said that if elected, she would focus on three things: community policing, economic inequality and access to health care.
“I know a lot of people may ask what makes me qualified,” she said. “But I’ll tell you if a mother had to watch her son lay in the street for four and a half hours and watch a community be completely disrespected by elected officials that we elected, what would you do? You would stand up and fight, too.”