The ashes of the Ferguson, Mo., uprising have given way to the ouster of a longstanding St. Louis County prosecuting attorney who not only led the investigation into the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson, but took a moment to chastise the public who demanded that Wilson be brought to justice.
In what many are calling an upset—but it’s only an upset if you haven’t been paying attention—Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell trounced the seven-term, 67-year-old St. Louis County prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, 57 percent to 43 percent, in a Democratic primary. Since there is no Republican challenger, unless it comes out that Bell is actually a Russian bot working to take down the government from the inside, he’s all set to win in November.
Bell, 43, has worked as an attorney and is a former municipal judge and prosecutor, the Associated Press reports. Bell’s win is not only a push for African Americans, it’s a win for criminal justice reform.
“While Wesley Bell’s victory may come as a shock to many around the country, it’s no surprise to the Color of Change PAC or to many in the black community,” said Rashad Robinson, the network’s spokesman, the New York Times reports. “This ousting of a 27-year incumbent shows the country what black voters have demonstrated for decades — that we demand to be heard and that we will make criminal justice reform a ballot-box issue in 2018 and beyond.”
After Brown’s death in 2014, many in Ferguson argued that McCulloch couldn’t run a fair investigation because of his close relationship with the police force. Bell, McCulloch’s first challenger since Brown’s death, ran on a platform of unity, vowing that if he were elected, he would “fundamentally change the culture” of the prosecutor’s office, AP reports. Bell’s first commitment to the people of St. Louis County was to assign “special prosecutors to review allegations of police misconduct,” something McCulloch refused to do in Brown’s death.
Bell shared his message of togetherness during a raucous victory party Tuesday.
“There’s too much divisiveness, too much division in this county, in this region,” Bell said in a video posted on Facebook. “We’ve got to start bringing people together.”