If you read last week’s Los Angeles Sentinel you saw that Congressman William Jefferson was indicted on 16 counts ranging from accepting bribes to wielding is influence for personal gain. But, while he was indicted I want to remind all of you that he was NOT CONVICTED. Indicted does not mean guilty. Indicted means charged or accused.
Let’s remember that the United States Constitution says that a person is innocent until proven guilty. So let’s not jump to conclusions and lock the man up before he has been given the opportunity to defend himself and we get all of the information first hand. We all have heard the jokes about the $90,000 in the freezer (frozen assets). And, like most of you I questioned it as well, but in the end I want to hear the congressman’s story before I jump to any conclusions.
The truth is William Jefferson has been a stand up guy; he is an intelligent and honorable family man. He has defended the honor and rights of his constituency (which is 75 percent African American) with passion and conviction. His willingness to stand up for his constituency is why even with these allegations swirling around him the citizens of New Orleans overwhelmingly voted him back into office in the last election. He was voted in despite the fact the a lot of people counted him down and out long before that congressional race ever began.
We should also let history be on his side. Remember, the powers that be made incredible allegations against Adam Clayton Powell, Congressman Alcee Hastings, Cynthia McKinney and a number of other strong elected African American leaders just to muddy them up in the hopes of getting them out of office. We should also remember that President Bush and his wild bunch of cabinet members have and will come after you if you go against them for whatever reason. Just ask the people at All Saints Church in Pasadena who the IRS has been investigating since one of the church members got up and openly opposed the war. Currently Roberto Gonzalez, the President’s hand picked Attorney General, is in a lot of hot water, because it appears he fired several well trained and very capable attorneys because they would not go after some good and innocent people who were not friends of the president and his administration.
In the end, I don’t know if Congressman Jefferson is guilty or innocent. This we will only no in time. But I do think we should give the brother a break. We should stand behind him just as he has stood for the black people of his district. Just as he has called FEMA and this president and his administration to the carpet on how they have handled Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath we should stand equally behind him until such time as he is truly proven to be guilty of a crime.
If he is guilty than let the chips fall where they may, but until that time lets reserve our judgment of the congressman, and remember that “You are INNOCENT, until proven GUILTY.
So, whether you agree or disagree, now more than ever I really need your input. I need to hear from you now more than ever. I need to know what is going on in our community. I also need to know what other stories we need to tell, and what is on your mind. I really do want to hear from you, I want you to “Talk to Danny.”
Danny J. Bakewell, Jr.
President and Executive Editor