St. Louis DA win latest victory for Black Lives Matter
When LaShell Eikerenkoetter cast her vote for Wesley Bell in the St. Louis County Democratic primary on Tuesday, she took the spirit of Michael Brown with her to the ballot box.
She had a sole purpose on Election Day: Get rid of Bob McCulloch, the veteran prosecutor who did not get an indictment against the white former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who fatally shot the unarmed, black 18-year-old four years ago this week.
"To show that four years later, when this man – who could've given us justice decided not to and did everything in his power to do the opposite – that we hadn't forgotten about him and that Mike Brown was still in our hearts. ... Getting him out was for the family, for all the people that have fought, and for everybody that we have lost," the 28-year-old Eikerenkoetter, who is black, said Thursday after attending a protest marking the anniversary of Brown's Aug. 9, 2014, death. "It was about so much more than getting Bob McCulloch out. It was about what he represented."
Bell's 57 percent to 43 percent victory over McCulloch, a white prosecutor first elected in 1990, is the latest win for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has increasingly shifted from protest to local politics in recent years. Voters concerned with the killing of unarmed black people by police have made their voices heard from Ferguson to Cleveland to Chicago.
In a clear sign of the interest and enthusiasm around the race, more St. Louis County residents voted in the district attorney's contest for Bell, a black city councilman, than for any other candidate on Tuesday's ballot – more than 103,000. Nearly 1 in 4 St. Louis County residents are African-American, and blacks make up at least a quarter of the county's Democratic voters.
In the five years since the Black Lives Matter movement began largely on social media with a galvanizing hashtag in the wake of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman's acquittal in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, the issue of police killing unarmed black people has not only made headlines and sparked protests across the country.
It also has spurred political campaigns, motivated black voters and polarized NFL fans. And activists have expanded the platform beyond policing to address systemic racism in areas including housing, education and employment.