Note: BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member Chuck Turner is due to report to
federal prison on March 25.
As a preface to this commentary here is a statement about Chuck Turner
by BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member Bill Fletcher,
have known Chuck Turner for over thirty years and knew
of him for several years prior to that. The case
that was brought against him, and for which he was convicted,
makes absolutely no sense.
do not know what actually transpired in his office.
What i do know is that there are few people that
i have met in life who have the integrity and dedication
to the people as has Chuck Turner
do not know whether he did or did not do anything that
broke the law. The entire fact-pattern looks like
entrapment. When i last saw Chuck, about a year
ago, it seemed as if this case was so flimsy that it
would go away. Why it has been pursued defies
explanation. This is not someone against whom allegations
have been made over the years regarding corruption.
Yes, Chuck has gotten on the wrong side of the
establishment but always for doing the right thing,
such as standing up for the regular person against the
powers at be.
i read the statement by the individuals from the Boston
chapter of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy
and Socialism (published below in this issue of BC),
the reality of Chuck's situation hit me like a fist
thrust into your mid-sections. The prospect of
Chuck going to jail is ITSELF the crime.
need Chuck in the streets, not behind walls. We
also need a very full explanation from the government
as to why someone with Chuck's history would be targeted.
Whether he made a mistake or not, one thing is
clear to all who have known Chuck Turner over the years:
he is selfless to a fault.
Turner must be freed!
are justifiably concerned about the recent FBI raids
in Minneapolis and Chicago. But two years
before this, the FBI mounted an attack on a well-known
and respected leader of Boston's black community, City
Councilor Chuck Turner. Jan. 25 was a sad
day in Boston when a Federal judge sentenced councilor
Turner to three years in a federal prison for conviction
on a charge of accepting a $1000 bribe from an FBI accomplice,
who himself was paid $30,000 to offer the bribe. Turner
claimed his innocence from beginning to end. This
outrageous abuse of the justice system is typical of
the backlash against black elected officials in the
in 2007, the FBI sought to discredit and ultimately convict
two Black elected officials who were especially
effective representing the interests of the Black community
and other poor people in the city of Boston. Diane
Wilkerson, State Senator for 15 years, succumbed to a bribery
scam perpetrated by one Ron Wilburn on behalf of the FBI.
Then Wilburn was sent to "take down" Chuck Turner
as well. Wilburn testified he was paid $30,000 by the FBI to
The case against Chuck was so flimsy (a bribe of $1000
documented only by a grainy photograph of a handshake)
that no one thought he would be convicted.
In 2009, Wilburn told the Boston Globe he would not testify
against Chuck because the FBI told him they were using
him to "take down" more than 20 white
politicians in the same operation -- yet none of them
were arrested. Wilburn testified at the trial only
because the authorities threatened HIM with jail time
if he refused. Yet Chuck was convicted
by a mostly white jury from outside of Boston.
Chuck Turner has been a leading figure in Bostonís Black
and progressive community, known for 40 years for his
radical ideas, solidarity with those in need
and his own modest lifestyle. When he first ran for office in 1999, Chuck opened
an office in the heart of his district, which is
overwhelmingly Black and Latino, with a promise to
keep that office open. In recent years, Chuck
has done this largely from his own salary --
yet he recently voted AGAINST a salary increase the
Council was awarding itself. This does not tally with
a person who would sell his soul for $1000. The
FBI case consisted of the testimony of a paid informant
who became a reluctant witness. The prosecution
case is illegitimate to the point of absurdity and is
nothing but an FBI attack and harassment of the left
/progressive movement in Boston. Chuck's
opinion was: "I am an organizer. That's who
I am. If they send me to jail, I'll organize in jail."
remarked, "To me, the attack of US Prosecutor Sullivan
on Senator Wilkerson and me is an example of the
kind of prosecutorial terrorism that goes on within the
framework of the American judicial system day in and day
out. Our responsibility to future generations is
how do we begin to cleanse our justice system of its institutional
racism, classism, etc. We owe it not only to ourselves
but also to generations yet unborn." Thus Chuck
sees a pattern of FBI repression which includes black
leaders, antiwar and solidarity organizers, and anybody
deemed a threat to the system in power.
that Councilor Turner has been sentenced to three years
in prison, attention should be paid to supporting progressive
measures before the Council whenever they arise.
It's up to the residents of District 7 to make sure the
candidate who succeeds Chuck Turner carries on the people's
fights as well as he did. That, and we should be
prepared to join Chuck in whatever new fights he finds.
Guest Commentators Quentin Davis, Greg King and Duncan
McFarland are members of the Boston Chapter Committees of Correspondence. Click here
to contact Quentin Davis, Greg King and Duncan McFarland.
To contact Chuck Turner, click here.