Will Justice Ever Come to Ferguson, Missouri?

“Challenging McCulloch is Wesley Bell, a 43-year-old Ferguson resident who works as a prosecutor in the Consolidated Municipal Courts and also serves as a Ferguson City Council member. A former public defender, Bell has cast himself as a reform candidate, the progressive alternative to a deeply troubled status quo. His platform includes ending cash bail for nonviolent offenses, the death penalty, and mass incarceration and has earned him the support of influential groups like Color of Change, Democracy for America, and Shaun King’s Real Justice PAC.”

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Josi Nielsen
This Time Things Are Different as Ferguson Elects a Prosecutor

“Nationally, 80 percent of races to elect a prosecuting attorney go uncontested. This Tuesday, St. Louis County will buck that trend. Voters will head to the polls to register just how fed up they are with a criminal justice system that has failed them. And for the first time in a long time, one of the chief caretakers of that system, Robert McCulloch, the man who let Brown’s killer go free, will face a serious reform-minded challenger. That challenger is Wesley Bell.”

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Josi Nielsen
St. Louis Finally has a Real Contender in the Race for County Prosecutor

“Wesley Bell is angling for the county prosecutor seat, running on a reasonably progressive platform that includes reforming St. Louis’s problematic bail system and focusing on crime prevention rather than punishment. He certainly has the right qualifications. He is a previous public defender who worked with clients throughout the region, giving him exposure to the phalanx of St. Louis county courts. His current day job is heading up the department of criminal justice at St. Louis Community College (Florissant Valley). Locals will also appreciate that he also served as a City Councilman for the City of Ferguson in 2015 and worked with Obama’s justice department to reform that city’s police force. This is no experienced outsider, but rather someone who is extremely familiar with the ins and outs of the criminal justice system in our region.”

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Josi Nielsen
Prosecutor Faces First Challenger Since Ferguson Protests

"‘This is gonna be a defining moment in history here in the city of St. Louis,’" said Jamilah Nasheed, a Democratic state senator from the city and a Bell supporter. "A lot of people are watching it."

The dynamics of the race — a reformist challenging an established incumbent prosecutor — echo campaigns around the country.

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Josi Nielsen
No justice for this St. Louis County crime victim

“Our prosecuting attorney has not worked to seek justice for all of St. Louis County…Like so many other aspects of life in St. Louis County, the justice has different standards for white victims and black victims. White victims may get compassionate concern and a zealous advocate, but far too many black victims are met with nothing more than stony silence…With alarming regularity, those charged with protecting us actively hurt us…McCulloch’s office will not stand up to protect us.”

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Josi Nielsen
Bob McCulloch's Pursuit of Punishment Over Justice Has Torn My Family Apart

Prosecutors can use their discretion to continue prosecution when the federal government gives out a sentence like this or they can decide that justice was served. Bob McCulloch could have allowed my husband to come home after six years but instead he added additional penalties. 

That is why the upcoming St. Louis County prosecuting attorney race is so important. We need reform-minded prosecutors committed to prioritizing alternatives more effective at preventing future crime. 

Imprisonment hurts families and communities. It should be the last option, not the first. 

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Josi Nielsen
Democracy for America Endorses Wesley Bell

Today, Democracy for America (DFA) endorsed Wesley Bell for St. Louis County (MO) Prosecutor in his race to replace long-time county prosecutor Bob McCulloch, notorious for his role in denying justice to Michael Brown and others killed by police in St. Louis County and aggressive prosecuting tactics.

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Josi Nielsen
Politically Speaking: Bell expounds on bid for St. Louis County prosecutor

“Ferguson City Councilman Wesley Bell comes back to the Politically Speaking podcast to talk about the race for St. Louis County prosecutor.

The Democratic official is taking on incumbent St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, one of the longest serving local officials in the entire state. Because no Republican signed up to run, the winner of the Aug. 7 primary will serve a four-year term.”

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Josi Nielsen
Bob McCulloch Is Aiming for an Eighth Term. Wesley Bell Wants to Stop Him

"St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch is accustomed to doing things on his own terms. Seven terms, specifically. He'd like to make it eight. McCulloch presided over the grand jury that issued a non-indictment of former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in 2014, gaining worldwide notoriety in the process. Yet he hasn't faced a political threat in more than a decade...Activists and criminal justice reformers want 2018 to be different. Their hopes rest on one man: Wesley Bell...Bell says bringing reforms to the St. Louis County prosecutor's office is long overdue.”

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Josi Nielsen
To transform justice system, start with prosecuting attorney's office

The election for St. Louis County prosecutor is pivotal in our community's crusade to expanding justice, liberty, and democracy. A community's prosecuting attorney has a unique capacity to define what these words mean as they prioritize the spending of resources to keep their citizens safe. The election for prosecuting attorney gives voters a way to re-define which civil liberties they value and ask critical questions regarding the efficacy of the status quo. 

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Josi Nielsen
Wesley Bell Speaks on Ferguson: One Year Later

… “A lot of the issues that we saw in Ferguson, these are regional and national issues. They are not unique to Ferguson. I think there were some things that needed to be addressed, there’s no question about that. And I think if you look at what we’ve done with our court reform, community policing, and so yeah, there’s nothing you can do to change the past, but we can learn from the past.”

“To me, it would start with one thing – community engagement, and making sure to have that community outreach so that your residents feel a part of the process.”

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Josi Nielsen
Wesley Bell: “If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re probably not aiming high enough.”

“We are uniquely positioned to set an example of what progress and change can be. I have the honor to participate in this council. I am aware that our decisions are local, but also national and global. We are viewed as a place of police brutality but we can transcend that. These are issues that pre-date Ferguson. Ferguson can offer a path out that others can emulate.”

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Josi Nielsen
Wesley Bell on his high-profile campaign and Ferguson's challenges

Bell trounced Lee Smith in a contest for Ferguson’s Ward 3 seat, which is where Brown was shot and killed by former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. He’ll join a council that’ll have to face major decisions, including hiring a new city manager and responding to a damning Department of Justice report of Ferguson’s police department.

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Josi Nielsen