Note: BlackCommentator.com 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.
The court of public opinion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cause I think he's crazy.
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)
He drives me batty. He really does.
You know Chuck, the lit...? The guy with the beard.
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...
That's not what he does.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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."
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."
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
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
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
Showcasing the crime:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
Prosecutions as a stairway to the stars:
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."
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
Protecting Criminals to Promote Their Careers:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fishing for Evidence:
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pitting the accused against the accused.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Luta Continua - The Struggle Continues,
Click here to
read any part in this BC series.
week chapter 3: A Jury of My Peers
BlackCommentator.com 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 SupportChuckTurner.com.
may also write to Mr. Turner. The address is:
Hazelwood Penitentiary, P.O. Box 2000
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia 26525