The outgoing St. Louis County prosecutor who oversaw the case against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in 2014, made a compelling case for why he was voted out of office in a recent interview, blaming his loss in part on activists for whom “everything...is racially motivated” and George Soros-funded groups.
Democratic St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch made the comments in a St. Louis on the Air radio interview on Wednesday. McCulloch, who has helmed the prosecutor’s office for nearly 30 years, was voted out during the Democratic primary in a stunning upset by the reform-minded Ferguson city councilor Wesley Bell.
McCulloch told host Don Marsh he had no regrets about his time on the job, a remark that isn’t particularly surprising but also affirms why so many voters felt McCulloch’s time had come. The 67-year-old McCulloch led a prosecutor’s office that many county residents believed—even before his controversial handling of Wilson’s grand jury investigation—was too closely tied to the county’s police departments to hold them accountable.
As the Huffington Post noted, the “law and order” prosecutor was also criticized for aggressively prosecuting offenders brought in on drug charges—a tactic that disproportionately affected the county’s black community.
When asked about criticisms that he was “racially insensitive”—and whether he understood where that belief might come from—McCulloch essentially said he didn’t see color. Even when it was right in front of him.
“I can think of different press conferences when we’re announcing where we’ve filed charges against somebody, and then they would ask, ‘OK, how old is the guy?’ And I’ve got to look to see what his age is. ‘OK, what’s his race?’ and I have to look to see what the race is,” McCulloch told Marsh.
“I think if you look back at the cases and the way they’re handled that you’re going to see that a very comparable case, whether it’s a black defendant or a white defendant, or a Bosnian or anyone else…gets treated the same way,” he added.
Marsh pressed further, prompting McCulloch to lay the blame for his widely perceived racism (back in August, a group of Oregon prosecutors walked out of a keynote speech he delivered, finding his comments “offensive and unprofessional”) on activists.
“I think part of the narrative is you look at a number of the people, and I won’t name any just yet, but that’s—everything to them is racially motivated,” McCulloch responded, adding that they “do a great disservice to the minority community in general, not just African-Americans.”
“People get so tired of hearing that—‘Wait a minute, this guy robbed a bank. This guy raped a woman. How is that racial that we’re prosecuting the guy for that?’” McCulloch said.
“Al Sharpton comes to mind immediately,” he said. “That’s how he makes his living, by continuing to make these allegations.”
In other words, the only conceivable reason someone would find McCulloch or his tenure as prosecutor racist—or, pardon, “racially insensitive”—is because they’re being paid to do so. Amazing.
Finally, when asked why he lost a primary he was heavily favored to win (so much so that Republicans didn’t even launch a campaign against him), McCulloch had plenty of blame to deliver—except, it seems, for himself.
“We got caught up in the Bernie Sanders crowd [that] has kind of taken over a lot of the primary,” McColluch said. He also singled out a recurring target of his, the American Civil Liberties Union, before leaning into conspiracy theories—just for good measure.
“I had the ACLU and other organizations funded by George Soros coming in and dumping, I think when it’s all told, it’s about a half a million dollars in to oppose my reelection. And that was just wrong,” McCulloch said.
His opponent, Bell, successfully campaigned against him by promising voters he’d change the county’s cash bail system, reducing recidivism and making the county safer by utilizing more diversionary programs.
St. Louis County will welcome Bell into McCulloch’s role come January, but the region’s first black county prosecutor already faces clear internal opposition to some of the reforms he wants to make in the prosecutor’s office. The career prosecutors Bell will be overseeing recently voted to unionize, aligning themselves with the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association—“one of the most aggressive police unions in the country” writes the Washington Post’s Radley Balko. In 28 years, the office had never made the move to unionize.
The move has disturbing implications: By aligning themselves with a police force widely distrusted by black St. Louis County residents, county prosecutors have undermined any appearance of independence (it should also be noted, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch does, that the union’s business manager Jeff Roorda has courted criticism by posting and deleting racist social media posts). But as Balko aptly notes, the decision also appears to be a “direct attack” on Bell and the reforms he campaigned on.
McCulloch defended the attorneys’ decision, telling Marsh, “They’re concerned, you know, that somebody comes in from the outside with no experience and now all of a sudden has taken the top position, well, that limits their chances to move up and move on and remain in the office.
“I think there are legitimate concerns about that.”