Since the Justice Department released its scathing report about a racially charged and corrupt law enforcement system in Ferguson, numerous city officials — including Judge Ronald Brockmeyer, a prosecuting attorney for four municipal courts, and City Manager John Shaw — have either resigned or been terminated from their long-standing positions. On Friday, five residents set their sights on a new target: Mayor James Knowles III.
Knowles, who’s served as the municipality’s mayor since 2011, is one of many charged with cleaning up the defective police department and courts. But the five Ferguson residents who filed an affidavit for his recall believe the mayor is one more player in a failed system. Although the mayor claims that his role carries little weight in the city, and Knowles’ annual salary is $4,200, his opponents argue that he had to have known about the endemic abuses of power. Indeed, many called for his recall after Michael Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson last August.
Although the members of the group have not been identified, an Organization for Black Struggle member, Juju Jacobs, told ABC News, “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.”
To bring about a special election, the group has 60 days to gather signatures from 15 percent of Ferguson’s registered voters, and must submit them to the city clerk. If the petition is sufficient, it is passed along to the city council, which will choose a date for a special election.
But Knowles is adamant about finishing his term, and cites texts, voicemail, and Facebook messages of encouragement as a sign that he belongs in his current role. He also believes that the DOJ report failed to prove that law enforcement routinely violated civil rights.
“What they’ve shown is that it has happened. Now, how often has that happened? I don’t know. Their assertion is it happens regularly. Based on what? I’m not sure yet,” he said, days after the report was publicized.