Protests are scheduled to happen in St. Louis, Missouri this Sunday in response to Prosecuting Attorney for the County, Wesley Bell’s recent announcement that he will not file criminal charges against former Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Two weeks of riots and unrest took place on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri in the summer of 2014, after Wilson shot and killed the 18-year-old and claimed self-defense.
Despite being elected in 2018 on a campaign of criminal justice reform in the wake of Brown’s death, Bell said on Thursday that his office could not charge Wilson under the law.
According to the St. Louis American, protestors are planning to gather in Clayton, St. Louis on Sunday afternoon to demonstrate against the decision, which Brown’s mother Lezly McSpadden says has left her son without due process.
From the St. Louis American:
McSpadden was disappointed that Bell did no new investigation but relied solely on the forensics and interviews collected in 2014 in a process handled by McCulloch and the St. Louis County Police Department that few in the community trusted at the time.
“He didn’t do a proper investigation,” McSpadden said.
Her attorney Jerryl Christmas said the reliance on existing evidence limited Bell. “You know that when you direct the investigation you control the narrative,” Christmas said.
Bell did no new investigation, but McCulloch and the county police were not his only sources of evidence. The Civil Rights Division of President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) did its own investigation and published its own report. Like McCulloch and ultimately Bell, the DOJ did not charge Wilson.
A lawyer for McSpadden says the prosecutor should take the case to trial and let the people of St. Louis decide.
But in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, Bell pointed to legislation that offers police officers more protections from prosecution than civilians as the real barrier to trying a case against Wilson.
“We see those types of laws throughout the country, and it is something that handcuffs prosecutors in numerous ways when you are going about prosecuting officers who have committed unlawful use of force or police shootings,” he said.
Given the nationwide uprising against police killings and lack of accountability for cops that continues to happen, it does not appear that the people of St. Louis are going to let the life of Michael Brown be forgotten anytime soon.
“The fight is not over,” said his mother to the St. Louis American. “Continue to pray for us, and continue to support us.”