Saint Louis, Mo. — St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is being asked to step aside via an online petition started by state Senator Jamilah Nasheed on the heels of trading jabs with Gov. Jay Nixon over the decision to remove county police from Ferguson.
Nixon announced on Thursday that Missouri Highway Patrol would be taking over crowd control operations in Ferguson, removing the county police which drew international attention all week culminating in a Wednesday night that saw peaceful protestors and reporters arrested, shot with rubber bullets, and tear gassed.
McCulloch said the decision to install Missouri Highway Patrol was “disgraceful” and “may put a lot of people in danger.”
But those in the crowd on Thursday night under the new authorities say the atmosphere was markedly improved. The Highway Patrol Captain in charge, Ron Johnson, directed most officers to wear normal uniforms instead of full riot gear, ordered all gas masks removed, and pushed armored police vehicles away from the crowds.
Johnson, a black man who grew up in North County, marched alongside protestors to the Ferguson QuikTrip that was burned down earlier this week and even waded into the crowd on a number of occasions to speak directly with protestors.
Nasheed said McCulloch’s criticism of Nixon was a perfect example of the prosecutor’s “compromised judgment.”
“When he says it’s gonna be chaos to bring in the Highway Patrol and then it gets better, that’s telling you right there he isn’t rational and he has poor judgement,” Nasheed said. “Then, releasing those images of Michael Brown today, after all this waiting, that was malice. He’s trying to assassinate this young man’s character simply because he didn’t like what the Governor did yesterday.”
Nasheed is a frequent thorn in Nixon’s side and one of the most vocal black elected officials in the state, making her support of the Governor’s decision regarding law enforcement more than a little surprising.
“The Governor was right and rational in his thinking to remove those weapons and those military tactics from that community,” Nasheed said. “He made the right call in bringing in the Highway Patrol; that is very clear. And for [McCulloch] to call him out on it is just appaling to me.”
Nasheed’s petition can be found at PetitionForJustice.com and as of this writing has more than 11,000 signatures. According to the Attorney General’s office, only an order from a judge can remove McCulloch from the case.
“Public opinion is gonna have to get that to happen,” Nasheed said. “He’s a public servant, and the people he serves are saying they don’t believe he can be fair, and they don’t believe he can administer justice.”
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.