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News :: Organizing
Chuck Turner Stands for Us, We Stand with Chuck
11 Dec 2008
In an amazing show of solidarity, people in Boston's progressive community stand for Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner defying FBI charges of corruption. We repost here a report-back from the latest community gathering for Chuck. -- BIMC Editors

Ever the visionary, ever the rebel, Councilor Turner rallied hundreds of supporters and neighbors at Roxbury Community College this evening. In a crowd that swelled from a capacity of 300 at the outset to a couple hundred more at its high point, Turner methodically refuted the two main media narratives against him: “victimhood” and “need for new leadership”. Throughout the emotional evening, the Councilor and all the speakers, singers, and poets connected with a deep spirituality as they prepared for the next day’s hearing in federal court. The event however was grounded by a serious analysis of US Attorney Sullivan’s motives in bringing charges against Councilor Turner.
The crowd was roused by the Silver Leaf Gospel singers. Their stirring renditions of “I shall not be moved” and “He’s got the whole world in his hands” brought young and old to their feet. With everyone’s hands clapping and feet tapping, Councilor Turner explained why this rally was kicked off by “seasoned” Silver Leaf singers: older people, he said, “are the foundation on which our movement is built.” In that poignant moment, with the whole auditorium singing, Turner took time out to interpret for the media present there: “To my friends in the media, what you’re feeling, it’s called ‘Spirit!’ Don’t let it scare you…”

Ever the visionary, ever the rebel, Councilor Turner rallied hundreds of supporters and neighbors at Roxbury Community College this evening. In a crowd that swelled from a capacity of 300 at the outset to a couple hundred more at its high point, Turner methodically refuted the two main media narratives against him: “victimhood” and “need for new leadership”. Throughout the emotional evening, the Councilor and all the speakers, singers, and poets connected with a deep spirituality as they prepared for the next day’s hearing in federal court. The event however was grounded by a serious analysis of US Attorney Sullivan’s motives in bringing charges against Councilor Turner.

The crowd was roused by the Silver Leaf Gospel singers. Their stirring renditions of “I shall not be moved” and “He’s got the whole world in his hands” brought young and old to their feet. With everyone’s hands clapping and feet tapping, Councilor Turner explained why this rally was kicked off by “seasoned” Silver Leaf singers: older people, he said, “are the foundation on which our movement is built.” In that poignant moment, with the whole auditorium singing, Turner took time out to interpret for the media present there: “To my friends in the media, what you’re feeling, it’s called ‘Spirit!’ Don’t let it scare you…”

Then the rally took a decidedly youthful turn: the Councilor noted how many young people he has mentored in his office and whose development as leaders, he has promoted. Listing off the names to applause and smiles of recognition from the room… Darrin… Felix… Calvin… the Councilor introduced an enrapturing poem by Maya X, “Let America be America, Again.” Her reprise of Langston Hughes’ 1938 classic connected with a history of repression and rebellion. With it, Turner, Franz Mendes (of the School Bus Drivers’ Union), young women from Reflect & Strengthen, all underlined the reality that oppressed people are not passive victims, but instead, they fight back… and they don’t do so nihilistically, they do so armed with spirituality and solidarity.

Another young African American professional who Turner introduced was the entrepreneur driving the radio station, Touch 106.1, Charles Clemons. He underscored the need for an independent media that brings information to the community in timely and accurate manner. Taken together, Clemons, Maya, and the young leaders Turner referenced, provided a vivacious refutation of the Boston Globe’s thesis that there are young leaders just waiting for Turner’s generation to move aside. Instead, it seems clear that Turner is seen as mentor willing to hoist these young people to his shoulders.

Next, the narrative shifted quickly to US Attorney Sullivan’s possible motives for bringing charges: could it be that he is positioning himself for a run against Deval Patrick in 2010? What better way for a Republican contender than to claim that he has brought down people like Councilor Turner?

In this vein, Turner warned his supporters that the next day’s hearing may not provide a chance to interrogate the “evidence” against the Councilor. Instead of a probable cause hearing in which Turner’s lawyers can cross-examine witnesses, it appeared likely that the US Attorney could convene a grand jury in which Turner’s lawyers have no power. Only the US Attorney gets to present “evidence” and question witnesses. Neither the councilor nor his attorneys would be permitted to confront the accusers.

That sober assessment did not quell the energy, however. Instead everyone was treated to a performance by the socially conscious hip hop artists, The Foundation Movement. Pausing between numbers, Eroc called attention to the fact that Turner was one of just two City Councilors to vote against a $12,000 raise for council members. Then he got to the punchline: “If he turned down $12,000, it just does not make sense that he’d take a $1,000 bribe. It just doesn’t make sense!” To the audible agreement and nodding heads of the crowd, he and they repeated, “It doesn’t make sense!”

For more information, visit:
See also:
http://supportchuckturner.com/

This work is in the public domain.
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