City Councillor Chuck Turner and supporters on Saturday did what they do best: they held a rally.
Around 120 supporters of Turner gathered outside his Roxbury district office, about 24 hours after a jury unanimously convicted Turner on charges of accepting a bribe from a Roxbury businessman looking for a liquor license and lying to FBI agents about it.
Turner gave a lengthy, meandering and at times fiery speech that took shots at various officials -- former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan; the Roxbury businessman, Ron Wilburn; City Council President Michael Ross -- and took detours through U.S. history, such as Shays' Rebellion after the Revolutionary War. He described the U.S. Constitution as an "illegal document."
The 70-year-old Green-Rainbow Party member also urged supporters to write letters to the judge in charge of the case, Douglas Woodlock, and ask him to put Turner on probation instead of jail. Turner is due to be sentenced on Jan. 25, 2011.
Turner said he is asking Ross to postpone any decision by the City Council on his fate until the judge has made a decision on whether to put Turner on probation.
-- Turner reserved some of his harshest words for former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, accusing him of allowing an FBI informant, an associate of Wilburn's, to be free despite drug charges. "He's worse than a hypocrite. He's worse than a hypocrite. He is an evil viper," Turner said to some applause.
-- Turner also trained his fire on the government's one-time cooperating witness Wilburn, calling him an "undercover hood" and a "handkerchief head," saying he should apologize and he would be forgiven. "You complain, you complain after they use you, you complain about it, Ron. Keep your damn mouth shut about what they did. You -- they paid you their 30 pieces of silver, they gave you the 30 thousand dollars, you got the 30 pieces of silver, so shut your damn mouth. They did what they did to people who take the silver. They kicked you to the curb, so shut your mouth."
-- On whether he'll resign: "I'm not going to resign... I've been convicted by a jury, I will admit and that makes me a convicted felon, but I just joined a very broad and somewhat distinguished crowd. But the reality is I didn't do anything wrong. They came and trapped me, they tried their best; I don't think they did a good job." He added: "And when anybody says to me, 'Are you going to resign Chuck?' they are asking me to desert my people. And if you put a bullet through my head, I won't resign, I'll be gone, but that's the only way I'm gonna leave that City Council."
-- Turner said he emailed City Council President Ross Saturday morning asking him to hold off on any decisions to boot him from the Council. "What the email said is that I realized he's in a tough position. He's a politician trying to get -- he wants to be mayor like everybody. Every one of those guys excepting for...well every one of those guys wants to become mayor. Right? And so Mike wants to be mayor, too. And so anybody who wants to be mayor in this city has to worry about how the white fringe will react to somebody behaving with common sense and decency. And so it puts him in a tough position. You know, he wants to move forward, he's got constituents calling for my head."
-- Turner said the jury was "hoodwinked." "Don't blame the jury. Don't blame the jury. The jury are innocent victims. They were brought into a scheme and a plot that was hatched U.S. Massachusetts Attorney Sullivan and they have -- [Asst. U.S. Attorney John] McNeil carried that plan on. So let's not blame the jury. They operated based on manipulated information, based on lies, and based on the fact that they come from around the state. They don't know anything about what was happening in Boston. They didn't have any contextual understanding of what was happening here... There were just two people from Boston. You know, so in terms of a jury of my peers, it certainly wasn't people from Boston or even the surrounding areas, generally. But so -- but don't blame the jury. They were just put in a tough situation, made I think a major mistake... Let's understand that this is the attempt of the government to destabilize a community of color that's on the move. That's on the move."
-- "The Constitution is an illegal document, brothers and sisters. That is, we had a confederation of states. They weren't supposed to be able to gather the way they did down in Philadelphia but they did it anyway because they were scared to death, because people were standing up, the white people were standing up and saying, 'We're coming to take our land away from you, the bankers.' And that scared them to death, and they formed the Constitution. Look at the Constitution, brothers and sisters. There's nothing in the Constitution about economic rights, about any kind of rights, the Constitution they wrote. James Madison came back and said, 'Look guys we at least need to put in the ten amendments, 'cause if we don't put in the ten amendments, our game is going to be exposed.'"
-- His take on Massachusetts: "You know, there's been a fight going on in this city between the Yankees and the Irish. And then once the Irish got control, what did they do? They turned around and fought the Italians and fought others. Why? Because the Yankees had taught them. This about dog-eat-dog, this about getting yours and keeping it and kicking everybody back to the curb. That's what Massachusetts is all about."
-- City Councillor Charles Yancey also took the microphone, saying the FBI was "hell-bent" on "destroying" Turner. Spotted in the crowd were state Rep. Gloria Fox (D-Roxbury); Rev. Gregory Groover, head of the Boston School Committee; and Roxbury attorney Hassan Williams, among others.