by Nigel Boys, BlackBlueDog.com
Kwame M. Kilpatrick, 42, former mayor of Detroit was convicted of corruption charges on Monday. He was convicted of 24 counts extortion, mail fraud, tax violations, and racketeering. Bobby Ferguson, one of Kilpatrick’s associates, was convicted on nine counts of extortion and racketeering. Bernard Kilpatrick, Kwame’s father, was convicted of one count of filing a false tax return.
Kilpatrick now faces a sentence that could lead to up to 20 years in jail. During the trial, he was described as an unscrupulous politician who took bribes, rigged contracts and lived a life that was far beyond his means while serving as the mayor of Detroit.
One columnist wrote, “I’m completely disgusted with Kwame Kilpatrick. He’s a thief and a liar who betrayed the black residents of Detroit who expected so much and received so little. Kilpatrick, perhaps the most underhanded mayor in Detroit’s history, got the verdict he deserved.”
After considering the evidence against Kilpatrick for almost two weeks after a five month long trial, the jury gave their verdict to United States District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds.
During the trial, Kilpatrick was accused of using the city of Detroit as his own “private profit machine,” by prosecutors. Once a rising political star, Kilpatrick has seen his star diminish over time and his family shamed by a long list of allegations that he broke the law. His supporters, however, say that he was set up for failure and was no more corrupt than any other politician.
“I saw a lot that really, really turned my stomach,” one juror told reporters. ”I couldn’t believe this kind of thing was going on… but there was never any anger. Disappointment is all I feel.”
However, not all people feel that Kilpatrick is guilty as charged. Some believe that he is being made an example of because of racism.
“Racism and ignorance is still profound in this city,” Omarrai Ali, one of Kilpatrick’s former students, told The Detroit Free Press. “They charged that man like he was Al Capone; like he had a criminal organization. This is flabbergasting.”
Unfortunately, more Black politicians, over the last few weeks, have been brought up on charges of corruption. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. recently pleaded guilty to numerous charges that could lead to prison time, and former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is also being charged with corruption. Some say that this is part of a disturbing trend to take down black politicians.
Tom Joyner, host of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” said, “First Junior Jesse, now Kwame. I hope Ray Nagin is the last.”
Joyner went on to say, “It’s no secret that I thought 10 years ago that Kwame would be the first Black President. Now because of the crimes he’s been found guilty of committing, he and other Black politicians are limiting the Big Chief’s choices when it comes to appointing black cabinet members. It’s a sad day for America, Detroit, black people and most importantly, Kwame’s family. He’s a husband, a dad and a son….who could have been great.”