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The Confident Chuck Turner Gets Arraigned


I was recently on the receiving end of one of Chuck Turner’s now infamous jujitsu throws, and boy is my back killing me. Though I was unable to attend Tuesday night’s event at Roxbury Community College, some of my fellow reporters tell me that the Boston city councilor gave me a considerable beating for my allegedly misleading coverage of the November 26 rally outside his district office. I can’t wait for the press conference he calls to unzip this one.

As usual, Turner held his beard high during his arraignment on conspiracy and other charges at the Moakley Courthouse yesterday along with co-defendant Dianne Wilkerson. Like he told NPR correspondent Bianca Vazquez-Toness in this must-hear report (during which she reminds him that, despite his belief that it was their first meeting, she has interviewed him several times by phone and even once in person earlier this year), this is the “most exciting struggle” that he’s endured in 45 years of public service.

Wilkerson wasn’t having as much fun. Though she was already arraigned on Monday for her original indictment on eight counts of federal extortion, the former state senator was re-invited to the federal courthouse to plead on subsequent conspiracy charges that were leveled Tuesday. Wilkerson ducked television crews on her way in, declining to answer ridiculous questions such as “Are you disappointed that they added more charges?”  

Not much happened in the courtroom. Turner pleaded “not guilty” to five felonies (conspiracy to extort, attempted extortion, and making false statements) while Wilkerson pleaded “not guilty” to nine (attempted extortion and conspiracy to extort). The prosecutor informed both parties about the harsh punishments that could follow if they’re found guilty, and Chuck chuckled. When it ended, one Turner supporter asked members of the media if we “were in there for the railroading.” I suppose one man’s rather cordial, ordinary arraignment proceeding is another man’s crucifixion.

Flipping the negative energy into face time, Turner and his clan capitalized on the situation. “What happened to due process,” one minion shouted. “Come on everybody – Chuck is about to face the press in front and we need you all out there,” another followed. By the time Turner reached the exit he had at least 100 loyalists aligned to chew the media from behind as we circled the councilor for comments.

While it sucks to smack my fellow Nader and Kucinich supporters, it’s necessary to comment on the legion of left wing loons who make up the white face of Turner’s anti-FBI, anti-media campaign. Despite honest intentions, they scar the image of pragmatic liberals, not to mention the councilor’s public footing; patchouli-stained burnouts might be the one group that closet racists and FBI agents hate even more than black people.

When I arrived, there was a woman wrapped in a yellow sheet banging a stick against what appeared to be a Pro-Kadima beach paddle. Kooky, sure, but harmless enough. But by the end, after Turner and his attorney, Barry Wilson, activated them, the legionnaires let loose. One weathered hippie wearing a dirty homemade “Chuck Tells The Truth” T-shirt screamed “Look at the gathering of the vultures” and called us “pond scum.” A class act, she proceeded to gag herself in our direction.

Though I’ve been harsh on Turner – especially since he waged war against reporters – I have mostly avoided criticizing his supporters for their inflammatory behavior. After all, Chuck himself is not the one yelling “Baby Israel” at the press corps. But since the jujitsu master’s gloves are off and his fists are dipped in broken glass, I think it’s time to tell his backscratchers that despite my large nose, horns, and career choice, I’m not Jewish. I’m Italian, so if you’re going to yell something at least make it “Dego.”

Of course, followers take examples from their leaders. And now more than even before, Turner is willing to say anything that serves his interest – even if the comment is highly improbable and rash, and especially if it’s shocking. After the councilor drove off, a cadre of self-styled “militant union organizers” riled the 50 or so Chuck supporters who remained. One guy called Boston City Councilor-At-Large John Connolly an “arch-segregationist,” and accused the ex-Boston public school teacher and other council colleagues of conspiring to de-claw Roxbury representatives. Others trumpeted their own irrelevant causes; I was handed literature promoting a strike to “Support Chicago Workers in fight against Bank of America,” as well as one from a Lyndon LaRouche volunteer warning that “The British Will Attempt To Assassinate President-Elect Obama.”          

As he knows and enjoys touting, Turner has so far been successful in his anti-media media push. But the favors have run out; from this point on there will be few concessionary articles or gracious puff pieces highlighting not-so-ridiculous moments in the councilor’s career. Reporters are finally fighting back; when one crazy screamed “Why don’t you write about how Chuck isn’t getting his due process,” a visibly perturbed television commentator belted back: “This is his due process.”

Lastly, since I’m a reporter who Turner apparently dislikes, I decided to read some material produced by writers he approves of. I presume that this article from supportchuckturner.com – a rendering of the Tuesday rally – is his idea of fair coverage: a sloppy happy ending in which the megalomaniac emerges victorious. The other example, a “special report” by Green-Rainbow Party Secretary John Andrews, is titled “Why is Chuck Turner in Handcuffs?” It’s wicked long, but I suggest people (including Turner) read it carefully. I’m fairly certain that it’s even more incriminating than the surveillance photos that Chuck claims he never posed for. I’ll leave you with this nugget:

“Yes, the FBI had handed Turner an unsolicited wad of bills for an unclear reason. But this was more a crime perpetrated by the FBI informant than a crime committed by Chuck Turner.” My point exactly.

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