Activist Leon Ford, 25, who was shot and paralyzed by police in 2012, announced his bid for Pittsburgh City Council on Thursday, according to WTAE, Pittsburgh Action News 4.
“I have been speaking all over the country encouraging young people to not only vote, but to run for office,” Ford wrote in a statement. “I never considered running for office until I realized that I was one of the only voices bold enough to stand up for the people and speak truth to power.”
He will be running for a seat to represent District 9, which is now held by Rev. Ricky Burgess, who had held the position since 2007.
Ford was shot by detective David Derbish after a traffic stop in Highland Park. He later filed a civil rights lawsuit which was led to a $5.5 million settlement with the city. The council consented to the payout, but Rev. Burgess was absent for the vote.
The young activist went viral in 2017 after sharing a video of his son encouraging him to learn to walk again. The young boy can be heard saying, “Keep pushing. Don’t give up,” as he helps Ford with a walker.
Ford tweeted the sentimental moment, writing, “When you get shot by a police officer 5 times–and docs say that you will ever walk but your son says keep pushing.”
When you get shot by a police officer 5 times–and docs say that you will ever walk but your son says keep pushing 💪🏾💪🏾💪🏾 Untold 11•11•17 pic.twitter.com/DPuTcp6i3g
— Leon Ford (@LeonFordSpeaks) August 20, 2017
Ford said his campaign will focus on “restoring hope in our neighborhoods, creating new economic opportunities for our residents and healing one another to make all of our communities safe, vibrant, prosperous and livable for all.”
According to The Incline, Ford decided to embark on a political career after the fatal police shooting of Antwon Rose II, an unarmed 17-year-old, in East Pittsburgh in June.
“I’m a candidate now,” he told the publication. “I never considered running for public office. In fact, there was a time that I was against it, but now I’ve learned more about politics and policy and, it’s like, I’m tired of protesting and showing up at community meetings where the decisions are already made.”
Ford will host a campaign kickoff on Nov. 11, six years to the date of his shooting.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.