- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (AP) - Some black Democrats say they will not support any candidate this fall who they believe has not shown respect for the African-American community on issues including education, jobs and racial profiling.

The newly formed Fannie Lou Hamer Democratic Coalition made the announcement Wednesday and said it would not single out a specific person running for office, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1qNzXM6 ). But the group’s leader, St. Louis County Chairwoman Hazel Erby, also said the organization would explore its options before deciding to endorse Democratic candidate Steve Stenger over his opponent, Republican state Rep. Rick Stream, for St. Louis County executive.

Stenger said speakers at a St. Louis County Council meeting this week demanded he denounce County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who has politically supported Stenger.

“The answer is, ‘no,’ I’m not going to denounce Bob McCulloch,” Stenger said. “He has been our elected prosecutor for 25 years, and by state law he has been charged with doing a complete, thorough and unbiased job. And I truly believe he will do that.”

Activists are concerned the killing of McCulloch’s police officer father by a black suspect will influence his decisions in the investigation of a fatal shooting in Ferguson. On Aug. 9, Michael Brown, who is black and was unarmed, was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white.

Stream said he supported naming a special prosecutor to handle the investigation, which he said would have “removed all doubt about having a fair and independent investigation.”

He also said he supports special prosecutors being appointed to handle all cases involving police shootings.

In a written statement announcing the coalition’s creation, Erby said, “We are all serving notice that we are not going to support candidates just because they have an insignia of a donkey behind their name.”

Stenger, a county council member, said he did not foresee the coalition affecting his working relationship with Erby.

“I value her opinion and concerns a great deal,” he said. “Directly and indirectly she has expressed her concerns for her community and our community. I hope this is the first step toward a meaningful dialogue.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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