The situation in Ferguson is anything but calm lately. The Department of Justice released a scathing report detailing shocking racist treatment of black residents from the city’s police department. The city has since seen a string of resignations, from City Manager John Shaw to Police Chief Thomas Jackson, as well as two other police officers.
The latest disturbing news was the shooting of two police officers by an unknown assailant; the officers both survived, but no arrests have been made.
According to CNN, the Department of Justice’s report found “unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans” as well as repeated violations of Constitutional rights. It found that the city’s black residents were being targeted as “sources of revenue” rather than “constituents to be protected.”
Now, five Ferguson residents are pushing for Mayor James Knowles’ resignation, and filed an affidavit to recall him. The residents have 60 days to collect the signatures of 15 percent of registered voters in order to call for the special election.
Juju Jacobs, an organizer with the Organization for Black Struggle, considers Knowles’ resignation an important step on the way towards improving the city’s current situation.
“We have always pushed for Mayor Knowles to be recalled and now in the wake of our current situation we will fully support local citizens who have chosen to reclaim their city and begin to develop the type of transformation they want to see. We don’t see this as the last thing that needs to happen, but an important step toward restoring accountability to the people of Ferguson.”
Knowles has said he has no plans to resign and said that he has always been willing to listen.
“I think it’s important to recognize that there’s a lot of people who may be angry at the situation; there’s a lot of people who are frustrated in this community with the way things have gone down… But there’s a lot of people who still — and who have expressed this to me — express confidence in both my willingness, and members of the [City] Council’s willingness, to listen, to be responsive, and to make changes as necessary.”
This sentiment is not shared by everyone. Rasheen Aldridge, who is part of a reform commission in Ferguson, stated, “He knew what was going on during his watch” in reference to the violence and racism going on in the city.
According to NPR, Knowles has expressed a desire to have a dialogue, but stated that there was “hostile language” coming from the Justice Department.
After the shooting of the two officers, there have been desperate calls for peace from all sides, with some explaining that this type of violence won’t do anyone any good. So far, it’s been clear that even a national spotlight isn’t enough to deter such violence completely. However, it has spurred a powerful movement for reform, both in Ferguson and across the country. Ferguson has been an example of racism and police brutality, forcing into public discourse an issue that many have avoided out of discomfort.
The slew of resignations may be a sign that progress is finally possible, but it’s clear there’s still a long fight ahead.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]