Surprise Victory: Black Ferguson city councilman unseats long-time incumbent St. Louis County prosecutor

The ousted prosecutor was in office when Michael Brown was shot dead by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Wesley Bell Bob McCulloch thegrio.com
Wesley Bell, Bob McCulloch

 

A Ferguson city councilman unseated a longtime incumbent in a contentious, high stakes race to become the next St. Louis County prosecutor, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

In an upset, Wesley Bell, 43, secured more than half of the vote  in the Democratic primary ending Robert McCulloch’s 28-year run as prosecutor in a county where emotions ran high after the police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

McCulloch won his seventh term as prosecutor just days after Brown’s death in 2014. He infamously refused to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Brown.

Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson police, set off a series of protests and a call for criminal justice reform. Bell ran for St. Louis prosecutor on a platform to bring change to criminal justice in St. Louis, according to reports.

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Bell was serving his second term as a Ferguson City Council and he connected with his constituents. While some argued that he was cozying up too much to police, because of his family’s background in law enforcement, he showed strength in numbers in the polls.

“People say, ‘well you shocked the world.’ No. We shocked the world,” Bell said to a crowd of supporters Tuesday night.

“I’m in total disbelief,” St. Louis University political science professor Ken Warren said late Tuesday. Warren believed McCulloch would secure his eighth straight term.

“Obviously Ferguson defined this election,” Warren said. “Bell made his name through Ferguson, and (McCulloch) tarnished his name through his handling of Ferguson.”

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St. Louis County Prosecutor McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Following Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO, social media exploded with photos, videos and calls for support.

Bell said, “I don’t believe in campaign promises. I believe in promises. So when we say we are going to expand diversionary programs, it’s going to happen. When we say we are going to reform the cash bail program, it’s going to happen.”

In November, Bell will run without opposition.