PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Several African American groups and leaders that once endorsed Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams are now calling for his resignation following federal corruption charges.
“I think it would be appropriate for me to apologize to the public,” says Minister Rodney Muhammad, who runs Mosque No. 12, and is president of the Philadelphia NAACP. “I stood and endorsed and tried to encourage people to vote for Seth Williams. For that, Seth can’t apologize, I have to apologize for what I did.”
— Cherri Gregg (@cherrigregg) April 4, 2017
Muhammad is one of a number of the city’s black leaders that are changing course in their support for Williams. Rev. Gregory Holston, executive director of P.O.W.E.R., stood with Black Clergy back in 2009 and 2013 to endorse Williams. Now he says Williams sadly must go.
“It always painful to see anyone have to leave office because of ethical violations,” says Holston. “It’s even more painful when it is the first African American district attorney that you have to stand here, and say that he has to leave office.”
Attorney Michael Coard is another leader who endorsed Williams. He, too, says the DA is unfit to serve.
“Ethics were violated and admitted to,” says Coard, “There’s also the appearance of impropriety– so there is no way that Seth Williams can in good conscious continue to serve as district attorney.”
— Holli Stephens (@wordsbyholli) April 4, 2017
Other groups who joined today’s press conference include the Philadelphia National Action Network, Black Lives Matter Philadelphia, the MOVE organization, as well as other leaders and activists who says Williams, who voluntarily allowed his law license to be suspended, cannot objectively run his office.
“It’s not about whether he’s guilty or innocent,” says Christopher Norris, the activist who organized the presser. Norris and others have protested Williams for years calling for his removal. He and Black Lives Matter and others say Williams did not properly handle the police shooting of Brandon Tate Brown or the prosecution of Tamayo McDuffy, who was wrongfully accused of attempting to burn down his neighbor’s home.
“All of this stuff is mounting,” says Norris, “and now we have this huge scandal. We must preserve the integrity of the office.”
Earlier this week, former DA Lynne Abraham joined in a lawsuit calling for Williams removal. Other organizations, including the Philadelphia Bar Association, have called for his resignation as well.
The DA’s office declined to comment.