Group rallies for Conyers; calls for due process

December 4, 2017 GMT

Detroit — Politicians and community leaders Monday demanded the end of the calls for Congressman John Conyers Jr. to resign amid accusations of sexual harassment by former staffers.

They said the congressman is entitled to due process.

The group gathered Monday at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit for a rally in support of the 88-year-old Detroit Democrat.

“We’re here for due process,” said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the NAACP’s Detroit Chapter. “If we’re going to raise this unholy and unlawful guillotine, calling for the head of John Conyers, then (an effort to remove) the president of the United States” must begin, he said.

Anthony was referring to allegations of sexual harassment leveled against President Donald Trump during his campaign for office.

The minister was joined at the rally by State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit; Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Pastor Charles G. Adams; and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans. It featured about a dozen speakers and lasted a little more than an hour.

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“We’re calling on the moral core of this nation to not treat us any different than anyone else,” said Gay-Dagnogo, who organized Monday’s rally. “We deserve to select and elect our leaders. Our voices have meaning. Our votes have meaning. ”

The rally comes at a time when Conyers is expected to make a decision about whether he will stay in Congress amid the allegations. It also comes five days after he was hospitalized due to “tremendous stress.”

The sexual harassment allegations against Conyers surfaced Nov. 20 after BuzzFeed News reported he settled a wrongful dismissal complaint with an employee in 2015 for $27,000 in exchange for a confidentiality agreement and that he made advances toward female staffers, including requests for sexual favors, caressing their hands in a “sexually suggestive” way, and rubbing their legs and backs in an inappropriate manner while in the office or in public.

Conyers admitted to making the settlement, but denied firing a female staffer for refusing his sexual advances.

Days later, the congressman stepped down as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee during a congressional ethics probe of the sexual harassment allegations.

A week after the report, second ex-staffer of the congressman also accused him of sexual harassment and several Congressional Black Caucus members urged him to resign.

Evans said due process is one of American’s fundamental rights.

“John Conyers has spent over 50 years protecting the rights of everyone in this country, ” the Wayne County Executive said. “The unmitigated gall to try to take away those basic rights from him without due process is a sin and a shame. It couldn’t be anything else.”

cramirez@detroitnews.com