The people versus St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch

mccullochAnnals of the United States of Lyncherdom: the fix is in for the murder of Michael Brown. By now there are six witnesses to the incident. Their stories are all pretty much the same. In the face of this, “Prosecuting Attorney” Robert P. McCulloch, Democrat, is angling for worst person in the world in the year 2014. (Turns out there is quite a bit of dirt in his background, if you believe Wikipedia.)

Turning to the current ongoing scandal, the indictment against McCulloch for malfeasance to date includes:

*   Failed to file charges against Wilson, which would not have required the convening of a grand jury;

*   Did not propose to the grand jury that Wilson be indicted, which is normally what prosecutors do. Instead he is just dumping all the evidenc in front of them. This amounts to a signal to the grand jury to forego an indictment;

*   Permitted Officer Wilson to testify for four hours before the grand jury considering his indictment; very rare.

If there are no qualified attorneys on the grand jury, the non-committal stance of McCulloch’s office could lead to an indictment on charges that do not fit the crime and result in an acquittal on technical grounds. Ordinarily the prosecutor provides guidance in this vein.

I do not believe Mr. McCulloch should have recused himself from the case because his father was a police officer killed in the line of duty. I believe he should just do his fucking job. Everything he has done to date suggests a desire to protect the police miscreants rather than “the people.”

I hope this case doesn’t drop from the national radar, for two reasons. The obvious one is justice in this particular case. The second is that the specifics point to great national issues of race and class. Contrary to President Obama’s emissary Rev. Sharpton, the comatose U.S. Department of Justice, and the somnamblulist Attorney-General Eric Holder, I hope people use this case to raise the broader problems.

Addendum: Related, this column by civil rights veteran Charles Cobb is worth a look. He alludes to the reality that most of the protest around Ferguson has taken the passive form of writing stuff on the Internet, rather than organizing to get people into the street.

A few weeks ago I attended a meeting in downtown D.C. about Ferguson. About fifty people, I was one of two or three whites, and the oldest one there by a good sight. A number of speakers and attendees had their own separate projects. The speakers were eloquent but there seems to have been no organizational follow-up, except some emails reminding me to vote. I’m no big activist, but I can get to meetings and marches with a little prodding. I could even do some work if I thought it would be useful. But it’s mostly been crickets. This has been a wasted opportunity.

Cobb is speaking to a mindset that expects deliverance from above, rather than self-activity. We’ve already seen what sort of help and encouragement we are getting from Democrats, including President Obama’s emissary the Rev. Al Sharpton.

It makes perfect sense to note that without marginal Democrats like the reluctant prosecutor McCulloch, the zombie-like Missouri Governor Nixon, and their political ally Senator Claire McCaskill, the GOP takes over and does unspeakable things. And so it would be. But that makes all the more urgent the construction of an independent politics that can expand as well as providing tactical electoral support for Democrats as the times demand.

P.S. If you follow Dana Milbank at the Washington Post, you would have known about this over a week ago.


The people versus St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch — 1 Comment

  1. So this post is ancient by now, but, well, I only discovered your blog today.

    “He alludes to the reality that most of the protest around Ferguson has taken the passive form of writing stuff on the Internet, rather than organizing to get people into the street.”

    Most of the activity around any issue will be like this – before the Internet it would have been people ranting to each other at home or writing letters to the editor – but the implication here that there hasn’t been much street organizing around is off base. There has been substantial protest, not only in Ferguson/St Louis, but in NYC, Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, LA, Madison, Atlanta. I am most familiar with Boston (because I live there and have been active there), Ferguson/St Louis, and NYC, because those are all places I’ve acted as a street medic for the protests. Things have been a little quiet recently, at least around here, because of the horrific winter, but the organizing is still happening and I am pretty sure it will be back. It’s been successful too, for such a young movement.

    Boston had a very nice string of protests including, in December, its biggest single protest on any issue in a couple of decades. Some have been in the high three or low four digit numbers, which, frankly, is enormous for Boston, where mobilizing people for street action is often like squeezing water out of a rock. Myself and other Boston-area street medics have done protest health & safety briefings (short version) or trainings (long version) for at least a three-digit number of people locally, and will be training a new crop of medics later this spring for future actions.

    I’m a little worried this comment sounds lecture-y, which isn’t how I mean it. I mean it to be reassuring! The kids (of which I am probably one, since I’m still under 30 for a short while longer) have been out there working hard, training and protesting, and don’t expect top-down deliverance.

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