“I see no changes”

Chuck Turner is going to jail. Unbelievable!

This longtime Boston City Councilor and social-justice activist (he represents a neighborhood down the street from mine) was convicted last year of accepting a $1,000 bribe in an FBI sting. After he was arrested in 2008, Ron Wilburn, the prosecution’s star witness, expressed his chagrin in the Boston Globe:

In an interview with the Globe, Wilburn, a businessman, said he felt he had been used by the FBI to topple a pair of prominent black politicians, while four months after the first arrest, no white officials have been charged in the investigation.

He acknowledged, with some anger, that the FBI’s use of him in the undercover operation to pay alleged bribes helped insulate the government against accusations that blacks were being targeted. Describing himself as disillusioned and betrayed by the government, he said he no longer intends to testify willingly.

(That was in Adrian Walker’s Feb. 20, 2009, column; sorry, pay wall.) The Bay State Banner‘s coverage includes this quote:

Eli Beckerman, the incoming co-chair of the Green-Rainbow Party, pointed out a potential political element to the FBI’s probe.

“Chuck Turner is a public servant with a 42-year record of honesty and extraordinary service that is seldom seen in Massachusetts politics,” Beckerman said. “He has repeatedly stood up for his community and turned down chances to curry favor from the wealthy interests that typically fund political careers. And he is one of the few political figures that have been openly critical of FBI infringement upon civil liberties.”

When Turner was sentenced in January, Wendy Kaminer blogged at the Atlantic:

In a serious abuse of power, rewarded by the sentencing judge, federal prosecutors based their request for a lengthy prison sentence for Turner partly on his insulting “post-indictment conduct.” Turner was not simply sentenced for accepting one bribe (of an indeterminate amount) in a long, otherwise unsullied career; he was sentenced for offending federal prosecutors—not simply with his post-indictment conduct but with his post-conviction speech. U.S. Attorney Ortiz said she was “particularly incensed that in recent months Turner had the audacity to compare himself to civil rights heroes.” Self-importance, it seems, is another de facto offense.

Councilor Turner will be speaking on “Framing the Innocent: Crimes Under Color of Law at the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office” at Northeastern University Law School this Thursday—the day before he is swallowed up into our national disgrace of a prison system. Info at Blackstonian.

UPDATE: Paul McMorrow has a different take on the conspiracy theory here. (Also via Blackstonian.)