Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark Speaks Out in Support of Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner
BOSTON/Government Center - Over 50 people turned out to Boston City Hall Plaza in frigid weather on Wednesday to attend a press conference by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark - who announced his support for Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner (G/R - District 7) in his fight against charges that he took a $1000 bribe from a local nightclub owner.
Turner and Clark emerged from City Hall together and led the crowd across the plaza to the front of the Federal Building where the event proper took place.
Ramsey explained his belief that the case against Turner is politically motivated - opining that it reminded him strongly of the travails of African-American politicians in the 1960s and 1970s, "Apparently every African-American member of the Congress during those years was investigated and rumors of criminality - I'm talking about the 70s now - were circulated. And we've got to better than that. I'm honored to be here with Chuck Turner. I'm convinced that he'll be vindicated. I'm outraged that the public and he are hurt by this assault on his character."
After a discussion of the importance of the concept of presumption of innocence, Ramsey began a frontal assault on U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and the FBI, "You don't find the truth by leaks in the United States Attorney's Office. Selective leaks. Without the defense even knowing what the real evidence is to this day. Denied hearings that would allow them to cross-examine anyone who wants to make false accusations. And maybe they believe 'em, who knows? But we won't find out, will we, for some time?"
Ramsey continued, "I've got to say something about the little bit we know about this investigation. The conduct of the United States Attorney's Office in this case. And the FBI. Because it troubles me deeply. Why would you send 7 FBI agents out, 6 o'clock in the morning to go to the house of this good man to arrest him? If phone calls were still a dime, all you had to do was spend a dime and he he'd've shown up, wouldn't he? Does anybody doubt that for a moment?"
Ramsey finished his remarks by connecting Turner's case to broader political developments "The abuses that we've already seen are just awful but I think George Bernard Shaw talked about England - which he loved to do as an Irishman - pretty much told us where we're at with our government today. "They want to send a poor boy to the Barstow [probable mistranscription - Ed.] for stealing a loaf of bread, if he did, and a rich man to Parliament for stealing a railroad." And that's what we're doing. 700 billion dollar bailout for people that will then increase their bonuses and salaries and all the rest, while a man that works night and day for the people they try to put him out of business. Well we can't let that happen. The timing of this is pretty serious too. How is it that they've gone on for 18 months, and now just at the end of the administration, they've come up with this? There ought to be a moratorium on any further action until a new and independent, hopefully, prosecutor can come in here and review this whole matter."
Turner responded briefly, making prominent mention of the fact that Ramsey was just awarded the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Mr. Clark as he pointed out, isn't just here on my behalf. The attempt to disgrace me, to put me in jail, isn't really just about me. It's about all the people in this city in this state in this region in this country who are standing up for justice. Who are standing up and saying we must cleanse the soul of this country so that we can prepare a country that is worth future generations joining. So I think Mr. Clark is here, not just to stand up for me, but to stand up for the future generations of this country and saying to all of us we have work to do. You know, if America is to fulfill its potential, if America is to in fact reflect the values that those who put together the fundamental laws, then we've got work to do. And that work is not crushing myself and all the countless other people who the government is today trying to crush to demoralize the people and to try to convince the people that it's not worthwhile fighting, they have the power and they're going to continue. But I'd like to say in behalf of all of us that we have just begun to fight and we will win."
Clark has been an often-controversial figure - alternately derided in much of the world press for defending Saddam Hussein, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, and Slobodan Milosevic, and lauded for defending Leonard Peltier, Camilo Mejia and Father Philip Berrigan. He has pledged ongoing assistance to Turner over the months to come, although he is not joining his defense team.
When asked for a response to Ramsey and Turner's accusations, Christina DiIorio-Sterling, Sullivan's public affairs staffer, said "It is an ongoing investigation, so we cannot comment. Sorry."
Full Disclosure: Ramsey Clark was an expert witness in the "Northampton 15" trial in April 1987. Open Media Boston Editor/Publisher Jason Pramas was a defendant in that trial together with Amy Carter, Abbie Hoffman, and 12 others - all of whom were acquitted of all charges stemming from their November 1986 arrest while attempting to stop the CIA from recruiting on the UMass Amherst campus.