Though Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner’s future in politics hangs in limbo, the causes he has championed will continue their work, local activists said.
Turner (Roxbury, Dorchester) was arrested Nov. 21 for allegedly accepting a $1,000 bribe. He continues to assert his innocence and told the Daily Free Press it was a ‘bogus charge.’
Boston Workers Alliance tutor Vernard Coulter said the organization still supports the embattled councilor. Turner founded the program that helps those who have been in jail find work when they are released.
Coulter uses Turner’s office to tutor because people often cannot afford transportation, he said. He considers Turner a friend and fully supports him, he said.
His service to the community will not stop as investigations continue, Turner said.
‘[Projects that I’m working on are] going forward, because the work needs to be done, and people are operating by the American principle that you’re innocent unless proven guilty by a jury of your peers,’ Turner said.
Community Church of Boston benefited from working with Turner when it opposed the Boston Medical Center biolab, Pastor Jason Lydon said. Rather than alienating people, Turner’s plight has united his community against discrimination.
‘I think that this is all connected to symptoms of white supremacy,’ Lydon said. ‘We need to be aware of that as community, and make sure that we are fighting that.’
Turner said he has seen a tremendous amount of public support, citing his first day back at City Hall on Nov. 24, when 500 people gathered in support of his statement of innocence.
‘The people in my community that know my work see this as another attempt by the government to take down an official who is challenging the system on behalf of the people he represents,’ Turner said.
Curtis Ellis, spokesman for City Councilor-At-Large Sam Yoon said Yoon has always seen Turner as a strong advocate for his community, both in and out of City Council.
‘You would certainly hope that the good work Councilor Turner has done for his community will not be undermined by this,’ Ellis said.
City Council President Mike Ross lightened Turner’s burden of suspicion recently when he suspended an initiative to hire a private investigator to look into Turner’s case.
Turner said he sees this as ‘an indication that [Ross] felt I should be treated in a way that allowed the trial to take place before the Council on its own tried to judge me.’
Yoon thinks there will be judicial proceedings, Ellis said.
‘[Turner] will be confronted by his accusers, he will have a chance to answer the charges and the evidence, and that’s the course that this should take,’ he said.
Lydon said the community needs to support Turner, no matter what happens in appreciation of all he has done.
‘[Turner] has always stood by us,’ Lydon said. ‘It’s our responsibility to continue to stand by him.’