FERGUSON, Mo. — As the sun sets on seven years since Michael Brown's death, a crowd gathers across from Ferguson Police Department, walking towards the department's barricaded entrance, and blocking traffic. It's a fraction of the numbers that showed up in 2014, but the message is the same: "no justice, no peace."
"You know, today is a heavy day," Rep. Rasheen Aldridge said of the day's significance.
Aldridge, who rose to prominence in the Ferguson protests, now serves in the state legislature and spoke to 5 On Your Side while sitting in a car outside the correctional center in Bonne Terre with Rep. Kimberly-Anne Collins. The Democrats are working on legislation to improve the criminal justice system.
"How do we make sure that his name and so many other names are not in vain? That we create the change that we drastically need in our criminal justice system?" Aldridge said.
Ferguson has seen progress in local politics as well. Ella Jones became the first Black person to hold the mayoral office when she was elected in June 2020.
"We're not moving at a real fast pace, but we are continually moving forward," Jones said.
Jones attended a vigil Monday morning with Brown's loved ones, talking for hours with residents about their hopes for the city's future. She says they are reasons to be hopeful.
"We have received five to seven new applicants for the police department where about a year ago we couldn't pay anyone to come to the Ferguson police department," Jones said.
Jones said the city has also completed 95% of the court requirements under the Department of Justice's ongoing consent decree.