After a week that featured House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC) calling for his resignation on the same say, Rep. John Conyers, a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, was shown support in his community.
Over 200 citizens, activists and local clergy in Detroit held a rally on December 4 at a local church.
A number of members of Congress, including colleagues of Conyers’ in the Michigan’s delegation, called for Conyers to resign last week. The calls for his resignation after allegations of sexual harassment were leveled again him. A report in Buzzfeed revealed that Conyers, or his representatives, agreed to a $27,000 settlement to deal with the alleged harassment. But the settlement, which was paid out in the form of an increased salary, did not include an admission of guilt on the part of Conyers.
On Sunday, November 26, House Democratic Leader Pelosi called Conyers “an icon” but would later tweet that there had to be a policy of “zero tolerance” in the U.S. House regarding sexual harassment.
“Zero tolerance” would appear to mean that there is no investigative process with regard to how harassment cases are handles against members of the U.S. House. So far, no one who has called for Conyers’ resignation has also focused on the rights of the accused in the process, leaving it to media and general public opinion to sort out the stories of accusers and victims.
Through his attorney, Arnold Reed, Conyers has asserted that he “has not sexually harassed anyone.”
His supporters gathered included some of Detroit’s most influential leaders, including the Rev. Charles Adams of the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, NAACP Detroit chapter President Rev. Wendell Anthony and members of the Wayne County Commission and the state House of Representatives. Conyers’ supporters were careful not to be critical of those who have accused the 88 year old local legend of sexual harassment. But they were quick to point out the need for “due process” in a moment where no investigative process exists.
A specific target was House Democratic Leader Pelosi.
“We always see a difference when the leader is a person of color. There’s a rush to judgement,” said State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo of Detroit. “It tells us that African Americans are disposable and that’s why people are not engaged in the political process. We’re just used to help carry the vote and we’re not going to accept that anymore.”
Gay-Dagnogo was also critical of other members of the Michigan delegation who have called on Conyers to resign.
“They don’t live here. They haven’t asked us. For the delegation from Michigan to not even check in with folks of the district and automatically take the position of Nancy Pelosi is just wrong,” she said.