A 40-year-old white man made racist death threats to St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell and Assistant Prosecutor Craig Smith on Tuesday, December 3 and is now in the county jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.
The man, Gerald Clinton Golden, of Overland, faces charges of a felony of stalking in the first degree. Golden also made threats to kill Circuit Judge Robert M. Heggie, who is white.
On Tuesday, December 3 — Golden’s 40th birthday — he sent numerous vile and racist text messages to an African-American woman, threatening to rape and murder her. In his texts, he indicated that he felt he was being falsely prosecuted and that he was going to murder Heggie, Smith and Bell.
“Read and weap (sic), [N-word.] A war has started. I will win,” he wrote.
The graphic nature and repeated use of the N-word has prevented the American from posting the text messages themselves. The woman reported the text messages to Bell’s office. The St. Louis American is withholding the victim’s name for her safety.
According to the St. Louis County Police Department’s probable cause statement, Golden “stated in text messages that victim is the enemy and that makes her a target. I believe that the defendant poses a danger to the community or to any other person because defendant has threatened to kill numerous people.”
Bell’s office is forwarding the case to another prosecutor’s office due to potential conflicts, said Tim Swope, Bell’s operations director.
“Because of that, we will not be able to comment right now,” he said.
The felony charge is only an allegation, and Golden remains innocent until proven guilty.
On Jan. 1, Bell was sworn in as St. Louis County’s first African-American prosecutor, after crushing the incumbent Robert P. McCulloch in the August primary election. McCulloch had served as prosecutor – and made enemies of blacks and progressives – for 27 years.
McCulloch’s notoriety went national due to his handling of the Darren Wilson grand jury and Ferguson, giving Bell’s primary campaign national attention, as well as furious local organizing.
Bell’s supporters were not surprised to learn about the death threats against him.
“There are a lot of folks in the region who did not want a black prosecutor, period,” said Rev. Darryl Gray, a longtime civil rights activist. “His blackness will become more of an element of scapegoating than anything else he does. The prosecutors in his office going over to the [police union]. Police not wanting to work with him because they think he will be too black and anti-law and order. You also have citizens who also felt that the election of a Wesley Bell would be a setback. Some people will always look at us less-than.”
Following the Ferguson unrest, the region showed its “rallying cry” for criminal justice reform through Bell’s election, Gray said, and they have watched others attack Bell for trying to address inequities in the system.
“It is not surprising that hatred and those seeking to maintain the status quo would see a Wesley Bell and Circuit Attorney Kim Garnder as a tremendous threat,” Gray said.
The vileness of the messages and death threats will have the opposite effect of what Golden intended, Gray said.
“It adds more legitimacy to the cry of advocates,” Gray said. “It doesn’t diminish that voice, it raises that voice.”
This story is developing.