NAACP supports indicted council members, calls for due process

Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 10:14 PM EDT
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Council members Gary Johnson, Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, and Tyrone Riley are all facing federal charges that they took bribes in exchange for votes. The Toledo Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) holding a news conference today with a clear message: these council members are innocent until proven guilty.

This message from the NAACP is in stark contrast to the message sent by local politicians over the last few days.

"I think everybody that we're talking to right now and the entire community would want the benefit of the doubt," says Ray Wood, president of the NAACP Toledo Branch.

With a third of Toledo City Council facing federal bribery charges, local politicians have been asking those members to step down.

"I am joining a growing list of community leaders in Toledo and calling on the city council members who were arrested yesterday to resign from City Council," said Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewic on Wednesday.

The chairs of both local major political parties and the president of the Council have also called for resignations. But the NAACP says it's not up to the politicians.

"The citizens of Toledo elected the four council members to their positions," says Wood. "No vote of any other body should remove them."

Wood calls for fairness, asking the public to avoid jumping to conclusions.

"People think what they want to think, they hear what they want to hear. They see what they want to see. They believe what they want to believe, I would just let them know our position: that they are innocent until proven guilty. and that has to stand," says Wood.

Wood is joined by former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

"Public perception is something that outstanding public servants need to not put at the top of their list," says Finkbeiner. "Because public perception is oftentimes filled with assumptions and assumptions don't count in a court of law or in the final determination of what is just."

The NAACP says they'll be watching the case and conducting their own investigation to ensure that these City Council members are treated fairly.

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