Click here to go to the Home Page Reflections from Behind the Wall - Anatomy of a Frame Up - Chapter 3 - The Big Lie - A Luta Continua By Chuck Turner, Editorial Board

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Note: Editorial Board member Chuck Turner is writing this column from the U.S. Federal Prison in Hazelton, West Virginia where he is serving a three year term for a bribery conviction.

A)     The court of public opinion.

At 7:30 on the morning of my arrest, TV and radio stations began sending the message to the world that Chuck Turner, well known activist and Boston City Councilor had been arrested for extortion, conspiracy, and lying to FBI agents. The newscasters' commentary were accompanied by pictures of a black hand putting something in my hand, while the hidden camera captured a smile on my face. This "evidence" of my guilt was being provided by the Massachusetts US Attorney to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that I was guilty.

Those initial pictures, however, were just the beginning of US Attorney Michael Sullivan's plan to convict me in the court of public opinion before I had even gone before a judge to begin the legal process. The time was nearing for Sullivan to take the stage. How else could the world appreciate the magnificent job he was doing as US Attorney. Shortly after nine, three hours after my arrest, he stepped onto the podium in the press room of the Moakley Federal Court House to begin putting the final nails in my coffin.

"If I do this right", I could imagine him saying to himself, "Turner's days as a Councilor and activist will be done by next week and we won't even have to waste our resources on him. Then we can concentrate on the big fish and get rid of the Senator. Smiling broadly at the world through the eyes of the cameras, he began his victory speech. Praising the work of his office and the FBI in bringing to justice two corrupt politicians, he then proceeds to use the media to the world. 

Yes, he was correct that I had been arrested for conspiracy, extortion, and lying to FBI officers. However, he knew that the Senator and I had not been conspiring to extort money from his cooperating witness, Ron Wilburn. The reason that he knew we were not coconspirators was that he had hired Wilburn, almost two years before my arrest to entrap the Senator and me.

Specifically, Mr. Wilburn was paid over $29,000 during that period of time to take candid pictures handing us cash. The pictures would enable Sullivan to have us arrested and allege that we were coconspirators taking money from an innocent business man seeking a liquor license.  He would then be able to boast at both the Senator's arrest and my arrest about the excellent work of his office and the FBI in apprehending two corrupt politicians who were using our positions to extort money rather than provide 'honest services" as elected officials.

That is just the tip of the iceberg of Sullivan's corruption. To understand the larger picture as I have been able to piece it together from trial testimony, court documents, and conversations with knowledgeable people, we need to go back to 2005. Sullivan's office was conducting an investigation of drugs and dirty cops at a nightclub named the Mirage, located in Lower Roxbury, a predominantly black and Latin neighborhood in Boston. Ironically, that investigation was still taking place last year.

During the investigation, it's alleged that FBI agents discovered information in the club's records that Ron Wilburn, one of the club's owners had given money to the Senator giving Sullivan a basis to put together a sting operation. Then in the early summer of that year, Wilburn ends his involvement in the operation of the club which leaves his partner and protégé, Manny Soto, in charge. In August, Soto is arrested for the sale of 200 grams of cocaine. While he pleads not guilty, it seems likely that he will be found guilty at trial since the state police had him under surveillance at the time of the sale.

The facts of the case are that the state police saw a man get into Soto's car empty handed. When he emerged from the car he had a bag, containing 200 grams of cocaine which led to his arrest and the arrest of Soto.  Soto maintained his innocence until January of 2007 at which time he changed his plea to guilty and was given seven years probation. The person who had bought the drugs, who was not a known drug dealer, was given a ten year sentence.

By March of the same year it became clear why Soto was allowed to stay out of jail when Wilburn signed a contract to carry out Sullivan's plan of entrapment and Soto began working for the FBI. It is rumored that he is still employed by them.  You may question Sullivan's influence in Soto receiving probation since the case was in state court. However, Sullivan spent more time on drug and gun cases originating in state court than he did on white collar crime cases originating at the federal level as will be discussed later.  Also, court records show that in June 2006, the FBI made an appearance in court regarding the case. 

To add to the absurdity of the idea that I was conspiring with the Senator to extort money from a person being paid by the FBI to entrap both of us, let me quote a conversation between the Senator, Wilburn, and Ivan Serret, a business partner of Wilburn. The meeting took place at a downtown Boston restaurant where Wilburn gave the Senator the first $1000 payment for help in securing a liquor license. Wilburn, on orders from the FBI, was to use this meeting to persuade the Senator to involve me in his entrapment scheme.

Ironically, my prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney John McNeil, included the conversation in his sentencing memorandum as evidence of the general opinion of my ineffectiveness as a Boston City Councilor.  What he left out of the memorandum was that the Senator's statement “Cause I think he's crazy" came as a response to Wilburn asking why she thought that they should NOT involve me in their joint venture to get a liquor license.

Wilkerson:  Cause I think he's crazy.

Wilburn:      No, he is crazy. Chuck Turner. He is crazy. I mean he's living in the nineteen sixties. He thinks Chairman Mao is is still alive. Communist Manifesto. You know. (Laughs)

Wilkerson:   He drives me batty. He really does.

Wilburn:      You know Chuck, the lit...? The guy with the beard.

Serret:        Yeah.

Wilkerson:   He would be good, if you needed somebody who, you needed to pick up a ruckus and just protest for you. I would hire him. You want to get something done? He's not the p....that's not his, he doesn't know...

Wilburn:       Yeah.

Wilkerson:     That's not what he does.

Now ask yourself: If you were sitting on my jury and heard this conversation recorded by Wilburn between my alleged coconspirator and the person who the Senator and I were allegedly extorting money from would you have believed the government was telling the truth. Yet, here I sit at USP Hazelton writing this in the fourth month of my 36 month sentence.

Since I believe many of you are able to accept by now my argument that I was framed, the logical question is why did Sullivan do it. Why did he go after the Senator and meI. In order to answer that question, let me share a little of Sullivan's background with you. Sullivan grew up and became active in Republican politics in Plymouth County which is known for being the location of Plymouth Rock and being the gateway to Cape Cod. In the early 90s, he served as a representative of that area in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

In the mid nineties, he ran for the office of Plymouth County District Attorney. He won and served for two terms. In 2001, he was appointed by President Bush as Massachusetts US Attorney. Some say that the appointment was based more on his friendship with Andrew Card, Bush's Chief of Staff, than on his ability to handle the responsibilities of the office. Card and Sullivan had become friends when they had worked together in the Plymouth County Republican Party in their younger days.

Since white collar crime is generally viewed as a major area of responsibility for the state's chief prosecutor, the US Attorney, Sullivan's appointment in 2001 gave him a golden opportunity to demonstrate his skills. By the time of his appointment, the Big Dig, a major transportation project going through the heart of downtown Boston had become a major political and financial scandal with its original budget of three billion dollars quintupling in size over the life of the project to fifteen billion.

Unfortunately for Sullivan, his office became an object of ridicule because of a lack of aggressiveness in pursing fraudulent business activities on the project. In 2004, Mark Wolf, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Federal Bench, publicly challenged the lack of prosecutorial activity on the "Big Dig."  At one point, he said, "When a public works project soars from three billion to fifteen billion , it breeds a sense in the community-in this case, the country-that the government is incompetent".

Johnathan Saltzman, a Globe reporter in a 2007 article regarding Wolf criticizing again the work of Sullivan's office on Big Dig projects referenced the 2004 challenge when he wrote, "Wolf, who served as chief of the public corruption unit of the US Attorney's office from 1981 to 1986, has criticized the office sharply before. In 2004, Wolf said that under Sullivan the office was spending too much time on drug and gun cases that belong in state court, instead of focusing on public corruption and white collar offenses that he said would have a greater impact on society."

Another federal justice Nancy Gertner voiced similar concerns about Sullivan's using federal resources to prosecute small-time nonviolent drug cases that belong in state court, instead of focusing on public corruption and white collar offenses. "Federal sentencing is a bludgeon, and the question is when is it appropriately used.", she said. "Federal courts typically deal with white collar cases. I don't see a large number of white-collar cases at all."

Despite this and other criticism, Sullivan was appointed in 2006 as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives while remaining as US Attorney. This appointment, obviously must have come through Card's assistance. I have often wondered whether his concentration on gun and drug cases was intentional in order to put himself in line for the ATF position. However, he was unable to obtain Congressional confirmation, probably because of the his performance as US Attorney.

Thus, I believe that Sullivan's plan to entrap the Senator and me was designed to strengthen his public credibility by exposing two black activist politicians with high visibility as corrupt politicians. Even if our arrests wouldn't bring the confirmation, he would gain stature at the state level that could lead to a successful run for Governor or Attorney General. Despite our arrests in 2008, the confirmation did not take place and when he resigned in 2009, he was offered a partnership by John Ashcroft, Bush's first Attorney General.  Sullivan's responsibility was to focus on running the Boston office of the Ashcroft Group, a high powered lobbying firm with offices in Washington, Boston, St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston.

I do not believe that this position ends Sullivan's dreams of political advancement. The Ashcroft Group in 2009 when I did my research had among its principles, eleven former US Attorneys, a former Governor of Missouri, and the former female Speaker of the House of Representatives in Missouri. I think it is reasonable to assume that Ashcroft is putting together a team that has the capability of having members who can run for office and when in office help move the fortunes of the Ashcroft Group forward. Those objectives make more sense as the reason Ashcroft offered the partnership to Sullivan than his legal skills given the nature of his career.

B) Analysis:

1) Showcasing the crime:

Every day across America representatives of the criminal justice system summon the media and begin a process of subverting the rights of the accused. From their perspective, they are fulfilling their responsibility to keep the public informed. Yes, most would admit that these highly covered press conferences enhance their career possibilities, whether appointed or elected and they would argue, “what's wrong with that”? If we are doing our job, shouldn't the public know about it.

From the perspective of the media, they see themselves as fulfilling their responsibilities to inform the public of the dangers to the health and safety of the society that have been removed by the arrest of dangerous criminals. Yes, they would admit that information on crime sells newspapers and magazines as well as brings viewers and listeners to their TV and radio stations. Yes, the more listeners, readers, and viewers, the more profit but profits are not the purpose, they would argue. We are the 5th estate, they would say, with a duty to inform.

From my perspective, having been in their spotlight given my arrest as an elected official, the public does have a right to know that I've been arrested as uncomfortable as that might make me feel. They also have a right to know the charges that have been lodged against me. However, the prosecutor and the media do not have a right to try me in the court of public opinion before my lawyers have even had an opportunity to review the evidence. Yet, that is what happens every day. Lives and reputations are destroyed sometimes months if not years before a trial even takes place.

My case is a classic example of the use of the media by a prosecutor to try the case before a lawyer has even seen the evidence. It was standard operating procedure for US Attorney Sullivan to call a press conference on the morning of my arrest. It gave him an opportunity to pat himself on the back and to continue the process he started with the release of Wilburn's pictures. It would be another step in the prosecutorial process of convicting me in the court of public opinion.

The press conference would enable him to build his star power while building the momentum to drive me from office. Hadn't Representative Marzilli recently resigned from the House of Representatives based on the controversy around his arrest. Weren't pressures mounting for the Senator to resign. I think he knew that three hours later, Boston City Council President Feeney would announce that she was calling a Special Council meeting for Monday, the next working day, to decide my fate (more on that in the next installment--A jury of my peers). When he stepped to the podium, I can imagine him saying to himself, Turner will soon be through.

Initially I was amazed that he would begin the public discussion of my arrest with the flagrant lie that the Senator and I were in a conspiracy. I didn't know at that point that Wilburn was his paid agent. However, it was generally known that the Senator and I were barely on speaking terms during the period of our alleged conspiracy because of a dispute regarding the building of a Northern University dormitory. 

Wouldn't he be afraid, I thought, that the truth will come out at the trial. However, I don't think he believed that there would ever need to be a trial, once he and Council President Feeney had forced me to resign. If there was a trial, the press conference and what he has said would be forgotten. If my lawyer was able to get the issue discussed in the trial, I'm sure he believed that his attorneys could find a way to dispute it. They could even lie. They've lied before and gotten away with it. If all else fails, he could find a friendly columnist to confuse the issue.   

While I am focusing on my experience, the reality, I believe, is that manipulation of the truth is often part of the prosecutorial process. Similar scenarios happen to people across the country every day. The question confronting the people of America is: Do we care about justice for all? If we believe in justice for all; if we believe that the accused has a right to be considered innocent until they are judged by a jury of their peers; then we have to change the practices of our criminal justice system regarding information disclosure before trial. Otherwise we are consciously colluding in the development of a fascist state where the government is given the ability to eliminate anyone or ones viewed as threats by putting them in jail through propagating "The Big Lie" over and over and over again with the help of their ally, the media.

2) Prosecutions as a stairway to the stars:

There is an assumption in this country that the criminal justice system is designed to keep the people of this country safe while providing justice for those accused. Yet, as I pointed out in installment two, there are no controls. There are very few if any checks on the powers of the prosecutors to manipulate the system to meet their objectives whether their objectives take justice into consideration or not. As the old saying goes "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Sullivan, I believe, is a poster child for the use of prosecutorial power for career advancement. As Plymouth County District Attorney, he used his focus on drug and gun crimes to build a reputation as a "tough on crime, law and order prosecutor." This reputation plus having a friend in the Bush Court, Andy Card, led to his appointment as US Attorney. However, he didn't focus his office's energies on the areas viewed as the traditional focus for a U.S. Attorney - white collar crime and public corruption.

As US Attorney, he acted as if he had never left the Plymouth County DA's office, continuing to focus on the areas he had specialized in as a district attorney. As Joseph Savage, Jr., a former Mass Assistant US Attorney and now a defense attorney, said in an October 6, 2007 Globe article, "He brought the priorities of a local district attorney's office and has de-emphasized the areas where federal prosecutors used to be uniquely involved, particularly white collar crime."

Despite the criticism from the chief justice of the Mass federal bench as well as others regarding his lack of focus on the "Big Dig", he was able to use his guns and drugs focus as well as his friendship with Andy Card, Bush's chief of staff, to secure an appointment as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives while continuing to serve as US Attorney. I have wondered whether he secured the appointment as a reward for not focusing on "Big Dig" contractors, many of whom may have been significant contributors to the Republican Party. I have no "evidence" just a seasoned intuition.

However, while his Bush connections could secure an appointment as acting head, it did not bring a Congressional confirmation. Thus my theory is that he decided that if the chief justice and others were saying that he didn't focus enough on public corruption as well as white collar crime and the Bush administration was putting an emphasis on their US Attorneys targeting Democrats (remember the firing of 8 prosecutors for not going after Democrats) , it would make sense to take down a couple of Black activist politicians - like Wilkerson and even Turner through entrapping them in a sting. This could bring him local if not national stature and perhaps secure the confirmation or at least a platform to run for office in Massachusetts.

While the arrests of the Senator and me brought him a ton of good publicity, he still did not secure the confirmation. However, as we have seen, the Bush administration was always ready to come to the rescue. This time, Bush's former Attorney General, John Ashcroft offered him a partnership as director of the Boston office in the Ashcroft Group, his national lobbying firm with offices around the country. This not only gave him a good income but also a Massachusetts base to run for office if the opportunity arose.

While this scenario may change from state to state with different US Attorneys, the fact that there seems to be no oversight by the Justice Department of the US Attorney's actions allows them to chart a course where they focus on personal aims and aspirations, rather than the administration of justice. One has to wonder whether Karl Rove recognizing this vacuum decided that the Bush administration should use it as an opportunity to advance their interests by having the US Attorneys' offices across the country focus on political targets. Is this what led to the firing of eight US Attorneys who would not follow the Party line?

3) Protecting Criminals to Promote Their Careers:

Boston is ablaze - on fire with excitement. After 16 years on the run, the infamous Whitey Bulger has been caught. Questions fill the air on TV and radio, the newspapers, as well as the streets. Did the FBI know where he was all the time? Will Whitey talk? If he talks, what will he say? Will other officials go to jail, if he talks? Who might they be? And so on, and so on, and so on.

Unfortunately, no one, as far as I have seen or heard, is talking about what I believe are the fundamental issues that go beyond the sensationalism. As usual the focus is on personalities. What demons possessed this man? How could one brother head the world of gangsters in Boston while the other brother headed the world of politics? Were there other FBI agents involved in Bulger's protection? We need to be looking at fundamental questions. Was it the personalities, friendships, and gifts that allowed this man and his gang to kill 19 people and commit a truckload of other crimes while being protected by agents of our "criminal justice system" or was it an institutional practice carried to its logical extreme.

My belief is that the explanation lies not in the personalities but in the practice of prosecutors and their police force, the FBI, protecting some criminals to secure their help in catching other criminals or in victimizing the innocent targets of prosecutorial terrorism. To me, what happened, as horrendous as it is, has to be seen as the logical extreme of this practice. US Attorneys and the FBI have the responsibility to stop crime. Yet, rather than focusing on stopping crime in Boston, they allowed one gang, an Irish one, to engage in crime in order to secure their help in eliminating another gang, an Italian one. To me, it's logical that as the Italian gang became weaker, the Irish gang would feel more and more powerful and act in a more and more brazen way.

If, as I believe, prosecutorial terrorism is aided and abetted by a lack of oversight and control, why wouldn't the same be true for criminals who are allowed to commit crimes while the public safety officials, based on their self interest, look the other way.  As long as the Justice Department allows this practice to continue, I believe that the Whitey Bulger’s of the criminal world will play their "handlers" for fools and the public will pay the price.

The other question that is being ignored is what role was the US Attorney playing while Whitey was being allowed to conduct his reign of terror. I think we make a tremendous mistake when the separate the activities of the FBI from those of the US Attorneys whom they serve. It is unimaginable to me that FBI agents could have protected Whitey without any involvement of the US Attorney and his staff.  It was the responsibility of the US Attorney's office to prosecute the Angiulo gang members based on the evidence gathered with the help of Bulger's Winterhill gang. How could the not have know of Whitey's involvement with the evidence they were getting. It seems inconceivable.

Again, I believe examining my case can be helpful in understanding how US Attorneys and their prosecutors can protect criminals - not in the interests of justice, but in the interests of their career advancement. From my perspective, US Attorney Sullivan  helping Wilburn's partner, Manny Soto, to stay on the streets despite his sale of 200 grams of cocaine, while the buyer received a ten year sentence, is another example of hypocrisy and corruption at the hands of US Attorneys.  What public interest was being served? None from my perspective. The deal seems to have been that Soto would virtually walk free in return for Wilburn's entrapment of two black activist elected officials, both of whom have a history of working steadfastly in the interest not only of their community but also of the city and state.

What evidence did they have to justify the attempt to entrap the Senator and me. At my trial, it was alleged that the FBI had found evidence that Wilburn had given money to the Senator that hadn't been recorded. However, that is a campaign finance violation not a federal crime. What evidence did they have against me to justify the sting. Wilburn told the grand jury, and the jury at my trial, that he heard that I asked for money to write a letter for someone coming out of jail so he could get a job at CVS. It's ludicrous to think that I would ask anyone, let alone a person coming out of jail to pay for a service that I have been doing for free for decades before I became an elected official.

If the judge had allowed my lawyers to discuss the issue of entrapment, we would have been able to expose the fact that Wilburn was telling a lie regarding the alleged letter to CVS. When the prosecutor, McNeil, pressed Wilburn to tell the grand jury the name of the person who had told him, he named a person whom I have know since he was a young man. To figure out what was going on, I called the person's sister who gave me his number in another state since he had been living out of state for over ten years. When I reached him by phone, he said he had not talked to Wilburn for years and he certainly didn't tell him a ridiculous story like that. He also agreed to do an affidavit if necessary. However, since we couldn't discuss entrapment at the trial, we could not expose Wilburn's lie and the fact that there was no legal justification for the sting in the first place.

So in order to have Ron Wilburn entrap two hard working, respected black elected officials, Sullivan allowed Wilburn's partner and protégé who had admitted selling 200 grams of cocaine to stay out of jail even though Sullivan had no legal justification for his planned sting. What makes Sullivan's actions even more corrupt and hypocritical is that Sullivan was constantly being criticized for taking drug cases out of state court, refusing to plea bargain, and forcing the accused to go to trial which often resulted in sentences ranging from 20 to 40 years. When questioned about the practice, he said he had a responsibility to keep people who sell large quantities of drugs off the streets for as long a possible.

4) Fishing for Evidence:

In an initial conversation with my lawyers, I remarked that we should have an easy time with my case since the government's affidavit indicated that they didn't have substantial evidence to support the extortion and conspiracy charges. While they had evidence regarding the three counts of lying to FBI agents, I had the truth on my side that I did not remember him or my interactions with him. It seemed to me that we were in reasonable legal shape. The immediate response was "Don't take them for granted. The affidavit is just the opening shot. If they don't think they have the evidence to convict you, they will just keep searching until they find what they need even if its evidence of a new crime. If they can't find what they need, they'll make it up. You have to understand, this is not about fairness or justice, their objective is to win."

A few weeks after my arrest, I could see more clearly what they meant when Terri, my campaign treasurer as well as my wife, received a letter from the US Attorney's office saying that we would have to submit four years of our campaign's financial records. My initial reaction was that it was a waste of energy for us to have to put the records together and for them to have to review them. I knew they were not going to find anything wrong because I knew how meticulous Terri was not only about our financial records but also about making sure that all our financial actions fit within the campaign finance rules so that there records could never be used to tear down what we were trying to build.

When I asked her to be my treasurer before the first campaign, her response was that she would agreed based on the condition that she have total control of the books as well as decisions on how we raise and spend money. She said that she knew enough about politics to know that all to often it is the campaign treasurers who go to jail for someone else's mistakes. "As much as I love you," she said, "I'm not going to jail for a mistake that you or anyone else makes." I agreed to her condition immediately not only because I needed her as the treasurer but also because I knew she was right. Traditionally, the financial records have been the tool used to get rid of elected officials who wouldn't go along to get along.

After a forensic accountant spent what seemed to be months going over the books, they reached the conclusion that I could have told them they would reach before they started. Terri's books were perfect. Let this serve as a lesson for all of you who are thinking about running for office. The most important person in a campaign besides the candidate is the treasurer. The reason is that if if you are challenging the status quo, it is likely that at some point you will be targeted by state or federal officials and the first place they will look for a mistake they can use against you will be your campaign finance records.

The best way to protect yourself against challenges to your campaign finances and financial record keeping is to have a treasurer who will be tough enough to make sure that you and every other person dealing with the campaign, especially those raising money and giving fund raisers know the rules and follow them to the letter. This will not make you or the treasurer popular but it may save your political career.

When I assess the mistakes that I made that led to my being here in the mountains of West Virginia rather than the hills of Roxbury, a key reason is that I broke one of Terri's very simple but critically important rules. Whenever receiving cash, immediately give it to the treasurer to be recorded and deposited. If I had done that with whatever amount of money Wilburn gave me, it would have made it very difficult for Sullivan to execute his plan.

Despite the other attempts by Sullivan and McNeil to find additional evidence, they were unsuccessful. When I went to trial, I still had only the counts I had when arrested minus the conspiracy charge. They had dropped it before the trial started because they knew as they had known when they had initially lodged the charge that they couldn't prove it. Anyway, it had done its job by keeping the idea in the minds of the public until the trial started that the Senator and I were the conspirators to hide the reality that Wilburn and Sullivan were the actual conspirators.

5) Pitting the accused against the accused.

A common practice of prosecutors is to arrest a number of people on charges of conspiracy even if the links seem tenuous. The purpose is to pit some of those accused against others. If some can be persuaded through the psychological warfare practices to plead guilty even if innocent, then they can used to give testimony against the others. In my case, I believe that I was brought into a case where the Senator was the initial target in order to put me in a position where in order to save myself, I would give testimony against the Senator.

Similarly, Terri and I believe that one of the government's reasons for taking four years of our financial records for investigation was their hope that if they could find some evidence of some error by Terri that could be used to charge Terri with a crime. Then they would offer to be lenient with Terri if I would plead guilty and testify against the Senator. Obviously, they underestimated Terri's skills and integrity.

C) Action Steps:

In my second installment, I discussed a number of action steps including making it legal to prosecute as well as sue US Attorneys and their assistants for misconduct as well as only allowing the charges to be revealed until the trial takes place. Both of these would be helpful in stopping the prosecutors from trying the cases in the court of public opinion as well as engaging in misconduct because they think they can get away with it. Also, we to develop a strategy to stop their fishing expeditions. 

However, given the crisis that we are facing with the rampant spread of prosecutorial terrorism, we need a comprehensive rather than a piecemeal approach to making justice the focus of the criminal justice system. My perspective on this issue is not only based on my present circumstances but also grows out of my lifetime of activism.

I remember as a teenager in the fifties hearing people on radio, TV, and in general talking about how good it was to be in a country where people were not subjected to the evil practices of a secret police. Eyes would squint and voices would tremble as people would talk about how horrible it would be to live in a place like Russia where you would have to worry about the KGB, their secret police, and worry that the government may decide to lock you up because you didn't agree with their policies.

A decade later, I began to learn about our secret police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with a leader named J. Edgar Hoover who was so powerful that even Presidents were afraid to risk his wrath. Also, I learned about the operation that was coordinated through the FBI, COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) whose purpose was to disrupt and destroy if possible by any means necessary those whom J. Edgar and his allies viewed as dangerous such as the civil rights and antiwar movements.

In the eighties, nineties, and into this century, I saw drug laws passed and prosecutors working feverishly to use the laws to imprison as many as possible with the result that in 36 years our prison population quadrupled,  growing from 500.000 in 1975 to 2.3 million today.

I am now in my seventies and see ruthless prosecutors working under the mantle of our Justice Department and using the FBI as their special police force creating in communities across America the kind of terror that was inspired by the stories of the KGB. Unfortunately, the terror of the FBI and the prosecutors who direct them are not stories from a land far away. This terror is up close and personal.

The moment for action is now. We cannot afford to ignore the injustice that parades itself as justice to continue. It is time to recognize that the issue of injustice is a cancer that effects all of us, regardless of race, class, and gender. It is time for our national progressive organizations to recognize that they have to come together not just to make pronouncements but to organize.

There need to be operational units throughout all the states of this country. These units need to be focused on research to identify the extent and nature of the prosecutorial terrorism being seen in their area; to identify the practices that need to be challenged; to identify the prosecutors who need to be removed; and to identify the political and legislative actions that need to be taken. With this information, they need to educate. They need to awaken the consciousness of this country city by city, town by town, state by state of the injustices that are being perpetrated by those who are supposed to work in the interests of justice not against it.

This local energy must be galvanized into a political force locally and nationally that makes the issue of justice as much a concern for the parties and people of this country as debt reduction. We must raise the consciousness that our human relationships are the basis of a healthy society and that injustice destroys the human fabric of a society in the same way that a cancerous cell, focused only on its own interests, will destroyed the body in which it exists. The choice is ours. We can recognize the cancerous nature of the injustice running rampant through our society and root it out; or let it continue to  grow and flourish while it destroys us.

A Luta Continua - The Struggle Continues,


Click here to read any part in this BC series.

Next week chapter 3:  A Jury of My Peers Editorial Board  Member Chuck Turner - Served as a member of the Boston City Council for ten years and eleven months. He was a member and founder of the Fund the Dream campaign and was the Chair of the Council’s Human Rights Committee, and Vice Chair of the Hunger and Homelessness Committee. Click here to contact Mr. Turner. Your email messages will be passed on to Mr. Turner by BC. You may also visit

You may also write to Mr. Turner.  The address is:

Charles Turner #80641038
Hazelwood Penitentiary, P.O. Box 2000
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia 26525

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