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SIMMONS: A Gray rally protesting ‘persecution’
For all intents and purposes, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has zipped his lips amid the federal investigation that uncovered the machinations of a shadow campaign that led to his victory in the 2010 Democratic primary. But his supporters are making plenty of noise.
To be sure, Mr. Gray's was a stunning victory as he unseated an incumbent who just four years earlier captured unwavering support in all eight wards of the city. But since being sworn in a year and a half ago, Mr. Gray has been dogged by allegations of political corruption and campaign malfeasance. Two white D.C. Council members called for the black mayor's resignation after some of his aides pleaded guilty to wrongdoing means voters and others are speaking up.
"Political persecution." "Selective prosecution." "Political prosecutions." "Media frenzy." "Rush to judgment." "Hidden agenda."
Those were the chosen words of a passel of Gray backers — including two prominent Protestant preachers, gay rights activists, Hispanic and labor leaders, a former D.C. lawmaker and a longtime supporter of senior citizens — who bore unbelievable heat and an unforgiving sun on Wednesday to passionately express their opinions about the ongoing federal probe.
As far as they are concerned, the noose around the mayor's neck is being hoisted not by prosecutors but by the media and people who want the reins of the city back in white hands.
Former D.C. Council member Harold Brazil, a longtime Gray acquaintance, took issue with those who have called for the mayor's head.
"He's an honest guy, a hard-working guy," said Mr. Brazil, a former Ward 6 and at-large council member. "The trash is being picked up, businesses are being engaged, and the justice system is doing what it is supposed to do.
"Don't rush to judgment. Let the system of justice run its course."
The Rev. Willie Wilson, a Baptist preacher of national prominence who has himself sought public office, suggested the 2010 campaign war chest of former mayor Adrian M. Fenty should be under scrutiny as well.
"I will be calling on the Board of Elections [and Ethics] to investigate the  Fenty campaign," he said.
Great. Go there.
After all, the essence of the rally was that Mr. Gray has not been charged with any crime. Unfortunately, blame the press for a public lynching, so to speak, as if we are only to feed at the trough when summoned for a news conference.
Mr. Wilson, who is truly blessed with spreading the gospel and revealing hidden agendas from the pulpit of his church in Southeast, laid bare the unraveling threads of political corruption.
"If you look at anything hard enough or long enough, you will be able to find something wrong," said Mr. Wilson, whose red baseball cap barely shielded his eyes and sweaty brows from the sun's glare.
But, like others, he also poked at the media, saying that "lives are being destroyed and ruined" and calling on the media to stop the "public innuendo."
Federal prosecutors are using financial forensics to help get their done. That's what they do.
The media is using named and unnamed sources to get its job done. That's what we do.
We were all there at the rally to record and repeat what was said, and we withstood the crooked fingers pointed in our faces.
And that is because we are not the story. Elected officials who break the law or betray the public's trust are.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: A previous version of this column incorrectly stated the number of white D.C. Council members who have called on Mayor Vincent C. Gray to resign
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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