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Pols, friends saddened by Chuck Turner’s fate

Pols, friends saddened by Chuck Turner’s fate

By Margery Eagan  |   Thursday, January 27, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Columnists

Much of official black Boston did not want to talk about Chuck Turner yesterday. Not state Reps. Bryon Rushing or Linda Dorcena Forry. Not City Councilors Ayanna Pressley or Charles Yancey. Not leaders of the Bay State Banner, which serves the black community. Not even Michael Curry, president of Boston’s NAACP.

Callie Crossley, who does a daily talk show on WGBH radio and is black, said she went through a long list of prospective guests for her Turner discussion yesterday and “nobody wanted to talk.”

The notion of a convicted Turner as a much-abused Rosa Parks figure may be unique to Turner and those who packed the courtroom for him Tuesday: mostly graying, white, uber-liberals from Fort Hill still stuck in their Peter, Paul and Mary salad days. Black leaders who were willing to talk about Turner yesterday weren’t buying that line.

“But everyone I’ve spoken to is pretty upset that the only two individuals who get slapped with a show-them-a-lesson sentence happen to be black,” said political activist Joyce Ferriabough, referring to Turner and ex-state Sen.Dianne Wilkerson. Then she cited the glaring inequity here. “(Turner’s) offenses pale in contrast to the other folks I won’t mention who’ve had felonious convictions.”

Among the many: ex-House Speakers Charles Flaherty (now a lobbyist) and Tom Finneran (now a talk show host).

Said longtime activist Mel King, “It’s outrageous. And when you look at the amount of money, there seems something vindictive about it.”

The Rev. Bruce Wall blamed both Turner for baiting the judge and Boston’s black community for failing to unite, convincing Turner to step down and the feds to give him a deal. “The white system does it all the time,” Wall said. “I feel so ashamed that the leadership of the black community is so impotent we can’t even get somebody’s (parking) ticket turned around.”

When Turner called the bribe “a preacher’s handshake,” said veteran defense lawyer Henry Owens, “that insulted the black community and the clergy. Then he kept talking and talking, proving the government’s case. If you’re going to take the witness stand, you have to come up with something plausible to say.”

Said longtime broadcaster Jimmy Myers, “The community of course feels the inadequacy in the justice system. We deal with it every day, and many feel he didn’t do anything wrong. God forbid that could be me.

“But when Chuck decided to take the Cesar Chavez approach, he infuriated the judge, so now here’s a 70-year old spending three years behind bars. . . . It’s a very sad day.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1312278

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