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Announcement :: Politics : Race
City Councilor Chuck Turner's Public Statement on His Arrest
by BIMC Editors
24 Nov 2008
Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner was arrested last Friday, November 21st, by the FBI under corruptions charges that he denies, and was later released on a $50,000 bond. Since 2000, Turner has been one of the most progressive politicians in Boston, supporting minority groups, poor families, and other anti-war, economic and social justice issues. Below you will find the full statement he released upon his arrest:
"While I intensely dislike and think that it is highly unfair to decide a person's guilt or innocence through the media, it is clear that once you become the target of a media witch hunt, you either fight back by presenting the essence of your legal defense or allow the media wolves to destroy your reputation so that the jury's decision becomes irrelevant to public perception...
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City Councilor Chuck Turner at a CORI reform rally. Photo: Jonathan McIntosh.
Since my reputation for integrity has been the foundation of my fort-five year history as an activist and organizer and since I intend to continue my fight for justice until the day that I die, I find myself confronted by the daunting task of using the media coverage to present my case to the public. This will not be easy, but I have no other alternative.
I have spent my entire life since graduating from Harvard College in 1963 fighting against the injustices faced by my racial community and my human community. I refuse to allow the political desires of the U.S. Attorney's Office to destroy my reputation.
My defense begins today with the release to my community and the press of a copy of my response to Council President Feeney's call for a special Council meeting this Monday, November 24, 2008 at 3p.m. to decide my fate as a Councilor. I don't believe that the Council has a moral or ethical right to do that. My service as a Councilor should
only be interrupted by a decision from my constituents or by a verdict from a jury of my peers.
At 8 a.m. on Monday, November 24th, I will be on my community's radio station, Touch 106.1 F.M.. At 2:30p.m. on Monday, I will hold a press
conference on the City Hall steps. At 3p.m. I will attend the special City Council meeting that Council President Feeney has called to have
the Council decide my fate. I have requested as is my right under law, that this hearing be public so that the media and public can hear the Counsel's discussions in order to be able to decide whether
whatever actions the Council chooses to take are appropriate.
Letter to Council President Feeney, from Councilor Chuck Turner
November 23, 3008
Dear Council President Feeney,
I am very troubled by the news report that you have removed me from my committees and chairpersonships. I am also troubled by the fact that you have called a special Council meeting on Monday at 3 p.m. to apparently discuss whether to take action against me based on my
I would urge you to cancel the meeting and allow the judicial process to judge my guilt or innocence. Not only would a meeting at this point be premature, unjust, and unfair, but also, it would create a situation in which I will not be able to defend myself since discussing specific aspects of my case would cause me to be in violation of the conditions imposed by the Court.
While I believe I have a right to a jury trial before any Council action, if you choose to forward with the special Council meeting, I am requesting that it be an open meeting as is my right. I sincerely believe that if the Council is going to put me on trial that it should not take place behind closed doors.
UPDATE: The City Council president postponed indefinitely the 3:00 p.m. meeting scheduled for today and moved consideration of the matters to the Rules Committee.
Councilor Turner's Press Statement: November 24, 2008
After 45 years of what I believe has been a career of integrity and service to my people, I find myself in a difficult situation. Ironically, the fact of my arrest and the possibility of spending twenty-five years in jail (if I live that long) while troubling, is not my paramount concern.
Those who know me understand that beyond providing care and support for those I love, I only have one objective in life—the liberation of my people. If at the end of my 45 year attempt to be of service to my Creator by standing up, speaking out, and taking action on behalf of my racial and human family, I am convicted for a crime I did no commit, I can accept that as the will of my Creator.
My main concern is that I am not being tried by a jury of my peers, I am being tried by the Globe, the Herald, Fox News, Channel 7, Channel 5, etc., etc. etc. News outlets that would not cover my work as a City Councilor are now knocking at my door almost every hour demanding that I speak to them as if I have some responsibility to serve their bosses.
In addition, Council President Feeney, on Friday at 12, three hours before my arraignment felt it appropriate to strip me of my committee chairpersonships and committee seats. She then decided that it was appropriate to have the City Council put me on trial at a special City Council meeting called for 3 p.m. today.
Obviously, the press is working to publicly destroy my reputation before I even have an opportunity to have a day in court. Since I am being tried by the media and my fellow Councilors, I have made the decision to publicly defend myself. That is I will act as my own lawyer in this media trial in which I find myself. Some argue that I should keep quiet for fear that I may make some statement that can be used against me. So be it! I will not sit back silently and allow my reputation be ripped to shreds.
While there are more issues that I will raise in future press conference to help the public appreciate my innocence, I would urge all assembled to join me in the Council Chambers at 3 p.m. as I participate in the Council's deliberations on whether to expel me from the Counsel and deprive my constituents of my representation.
I also urge you to join me at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 26 in front of my district office, 51 Roxbury Street where I will continue to present my defense.
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Creative Commons license.
Report Back from Press Conference and Rally 11/26/08
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27 Nov 2008
Report Back from Press Conference and Rally 11/26/08
November 26th, 2008 | Category: updates
In a stunning display of solidarity, upwards of 200 community supporters gathered outside Councilor Turner’s Dudley Square-neighborhood office for his second press conference this week. In a determined and measured address Councilor Turner called attention to dramatic new developments in his case:
(1) The FBI’s main witness offered testimony to a Boston Globe columnist that starkly contradicts the US Attorney’s account of the case. He pointed out that the FBI approached him to assist in their investigation. This belies the US Attorney’s claim that the witness approached them.
(2) This witness also indicated that he’d be surprised if other people are “not looked at…” by the FBI, suggesting that he entrapped other people who have not been charged by the US Attorney.
Despite these revelations and contradictory accounts, the Councilor observed that the media has given the US Attorney a free ride: not a single publication demanded that tthe US Attorney explain why his chief witness has undermined his claim. The media has also failed to report on other possible FBI targets.
As at Monday’s (11/24/08) City Hall press conference, Councilor Turner pointed to another media omission: coverage of his work in the community has been restricted to negative reporting. Turner decried the media’s silence around his dynamic efforts to sustain a drop-in District Office. He also discussed the public omission of his critical role helping to start the now flourishing Boston Workers’ Alliance.
In the face of this failure on the part of the media, Councilor Turner looked upbeat, even invigorated, as he outlined the community response that his supporters are mounting: building a network of residents to think critically about this and other cases of abuse by the media and
the powerful. The network echoes the work that the Councilor has consistently built over the years: recalling remarks at the start of his council work, Councilor Turner noted: “I would use my organizing skills to build a base of power within my community and the city to strengthen the ability of Councilor Yancey and I to convince the Councilors that they dare not ignore the needs of the people we represent.”
Despite the Councilor’s methodical refutation of the government’s position and the media’s case against him based on the witness’s revelations, the most poignant moments at today’s press conference came as residents spontaneously declared, “Chuck, we love you!” In response to other displays of support and affection, the Councilor thanked his communityby declaring, “It clearly shows me that you love me as intensively as I love you.”