Ferguson, MO, Residents Demand City Council Rescinds Renewal of City Manager’s Contract
Grassroots activist group, Ferguson Collaborative, rallies against Jeffrey Blume despite City Council turning up its nose
FERGUSON, MO – The Ferguson Collaborative is leading a group of civil rights organizations in calling for the City of Ferguson to rescind and remove its current city manager over his policies that disproportionately impact people of color. In partnership with Advancement Project National Office and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Ferguson Collaborative is also calling for a more transparent and inclusive governance process for the City of Ferguson.
The demands come after a tense protest during a Feb. 25 City Council meeting when councilmembers voted in favor of extending the contract of Interim City Manager Jeffrey Blume to May 2021. The Council refused public comments from community members during the vote and used the city’s police force to barricade themselves from citizen-protestors who called for Blume’s removal from office.
“Jeffrey Blume has a history of enacting and encouraging policies that lead to the arrest of Black, Brown, and low-income residents in Ferguson. He’s encouraged the city’s police force to apprehend, detain, and fine citizens over traffic tickets all to increase revenue for the city,” said Felicia Pulliam of the Ferguson Collaborative. “Blume is not what the city needs as it continues to heal from years of police brutality, bigotry, and targeting of Black residents.”
During the meeting, audience members were wrestled to the ground by the same city police force that killed Mike Brown in 2015. Residents’ mics were cut off when they attempted to speak on the vote, and the Council closed the discussion period to rush a vote. At least one councilmember, Francesca Griffin, disagreed with the majority of the council but was unable to voice her concerns. Griffin is a founding member of the Ferguson Collaborative and has served on the City Council since January.
On the five-year anniversary of the Department of Justice’s report that called out Jeffrey Blume as the architect of these discriminatory and oppressive policies, Ferguson Councilwoman Fran Griffin commented, “The budgetary decisions made by Ferguson’s power structure show where their priorities lie: not in helping the community, but in throwing money at optics while they continue to maintain systems of oppression behind closed doors—and sometimes in open City Council meetings. They don’t want to be called racist, but that’s what their actions in keeping the status quo are.”
Following the 2015 killing of Mike Brown by the Ferguson Police Department and the events during the Ferguson Uprising, city residents and stakeholders formed the Ferguson Collaborative to hold the City of Ferguson and the Department of Justice accountable to the people of Ferguson. The Collaborative also acts as true representatives of the people in the consent decree process—a legal agreement overseen by the Justice Department that mandates policing reforms in the city.
“Community members have a right to determine not only who they elect to office in the City of Ferguson but should also be able to have their voices heard on who is employed by the municipality,” said Thomas Harvey, Justice Project Program Director for Advancement Project National Office. “This is a core right of our democracy. What the mayor and members of the council did that night denied citizens their right to be heard.”
In August 2019, Advancement Project National Office published The Genius of Ordinary People, a report examining how the Ferguson Collaborative has spent the last five years putting the pressure on local and federal policymakers and courts, ousting a court-appointed official, rallying for the dismissal of thousands of municipal court cases, and positioning themselves in powerful seats.
The Ferguson Collaborative is a group of concerned stakeholders who are advocating for empowered community input into the Department of Justice’s Consent Decree negotiations and outcomes with the City of Ferguson. We advocate for fair inclusion that centralizes the voices of those most affected by unconstitutional policing in Ferguson, which truly allows for the community to shape the outcome.
Advancement Project National Office is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. Visit www.advancementproject.org