Ferguson, MO – Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, lost her bid for a Ferguson City Council seat in Tuesday’s election.
McSpadden placed third out of three candidates running for the Ward 3 seat – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Fran Griffin won the seat with 43.9 percent of the vote.
Incumbent Keith Kallstrom garnered 35.8 percent of the vote, and McSpadden only received 20.7 percent of the vote, or 70 votes total.
“I congratulate Fran on her victory. I feel proud of the positive race we ran, and I loved talking to the Ferguson community,” McSpadden said in an emailed concession statement late Tuesday night. “Tomorrow, the work continues and I intend to be a part of it no matter my position. I’m not going anywhere.”
McSpadden, 39, had announced she planned to run for Ferguson city council from the stage during a panel at Harvard University in April of 2018.
She moved back to the city for the express purpose of throwing her hat into the political ring.
“I wanted to go back and do something right in a place that did something so very wrong to my son, and I think that’s what my son would want as well,” McSpadden told the Associated Press in an interview ahead of election day.
The mother of Michael Brown had vowed to make police accountability her priority.
She declared her interest in running for office during an Institute of Politics panel that featured “Stranger Fruit,” the documentary about her son that was heavily-edited to remove her son’s strong-arm robbery of a convenience store, The Harvard Crimson reported.
“Stranger Fruit” made headlines after the filmmaker released a segment where McSpadden explained that Michael Brown never robbed the convenience store but was just dealing drugs to the employees.
Security footage obtained by film director Jason Pollock showed Michael Brown in the store hours before he was killed.
Pollock claimed that the video showed Brown giving the store clerks marijuana in exchange for two boxes of cigarillos.
“There was some type of exchange, for one thing, for another,” McSpadden said.
Michael Brown left the store without the cigarillos because the employees were holding onto them for him, Pollock claimed.
However, NY Times reported that Jay Kanzler, the store’s attorney, says that Pollock’s narrative is all fabricated.
“There was no transaction,” Mr. Kanzler said. “There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back.”
The full security footage was later released which showed that the “Stranger Fruit” filmmakers had actually edited the security camera footage to cut out the part where the store employees threw Brown's drugs back at him.
After the heavily-edited video that misrepresented what happened the day Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, his mother announced her candidacy.
“What I'm contemplating is running for city council,” McSpadden told the packed room, which responded with wild applause.
She said that running for political office would be part of her broader advocacy efforts on behalf of her 18-year-old son, who was fatally shot by police in a highly controversial incident in 2014.
Black Lives Matter launched its cause on the back of misreporting that initially followed the Brown shooting. “Hands up, don’t shoot” became the rallying cry of hundreds of protesters who have rioted and burned cities since Brown’s death.
But initial reports that Brown had his hands up were eventually proven false, and it was determined that Brown was attempting to kill Officer Wilson after he robbed the convenience store.
Officer Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury and a U.S. Department of Justice investigation under President Barack Obama’s administration.
McSpadden told the panel at Harvard she was running for office to save somebody else's child.
“We're pushing forward and we're coming through,” she said. “We have to get behind people that look like us and into elected seats so that they can really do what's right in our community. I'm going to start with me when I run for city council.”
But running for office on her son’s name and reputation wasn’t enough to get McSpadden, who wasn’t considered a local, elected to the city council, according to the Associated Press.
Southeast Ferguson Neighborhood Association President LaTasha Brown said that McSpadden campaigned from afar and didn’t get in touch with the community.
“The 3rd Ward needs somebody who’s going to mingle with the people,” the community activist told the Associated Press. “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?”
Griffin, the victor in the city council race, has served on the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, as well as several other boards and commissions.
“The people have spoken, and we want our voice heard loud and clear,” she said in her victory speech that was posted to Facebook.
Griffin thanked her supporters and vowed to “actually create the change we need here in Ferguson.”
“I’m kinda speechless at this point – I just want to work… and I want us to actually create the changes and I’m not going to be able to this by myself.”