Monday, October 27, 2008

Pittsburgh Councilman Calls For McCain-Palin Apology

This post is being filed via BlackBerry.

The following open letter concerning the Ashley Todd "B" hoax was released by City Councilman Ricky Burgess:

October 27, 2008

Dear Senator McCain and Governor Palin:

On Thursday, October 23, 2008, there was a report of a robbery, an assault and a mutilation filed by a volunteer for your campaign.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"She said a man armed with a knife demanded her money. She gave it to him, then began walking to her car, which had McCain stickers on it. She told police that although the robber had moved away from her, he became agitated when he saw her car, punched her in the back of the head, pushed her to the ground and carved a B into her face."

John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told Talking Points Memo's Election Central that your Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."

Mr. Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the "B" stood for Barack.

The Post-Gazette went on further to say:

"Ms. Todd told police during at least five hours of questioning last night that her attacker said to her, "You are going to be a Barack supporter." She told police the man then sat on her chest, pinning both her hands down with his knees and used what she believed was a dull knife with a roughly 5-inch blade to carve the B."

Your volunteer told the police that she was robbed, attacked, sexually assaulted, fondled and mutilated by an African-American man. However, we all now know that this tragic story was totally fraudulent. I am deeply troubled by the facts of this story. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Mr. Garcia took the widely published picture of Ms. Todd with her injuries. He said he took several photographs with a digital camera to document what had happened. He said he only gave copies of the photos to police and Ms. Todd's employer, the College Republicans. One photo appeared on The Drudge Report on Thursday, setting off a storm of media attention."

This much was true: A McCain-Palin official was pushing a version of the story that was far more explosive than the available or confirmed facts permitted at the time.

All too often in the halls of justice around the world, people are accused of crimes they did not commit. That one of your campaign spokespersons would spread such an incendiary story before any confirmation of the facts is both irresponsible and runs counter to our nation's Constitutional guarantee that no one be denied life, liberty or property without due process. Moreover, that a representative of the McCain-Palin campaign would be so careless and in the process of doing so, cast aspersions on African-Americans, is unfair.

On behalf of the City of Pittsburgh and its' African-American community, I respectfully request an apology from your campaign to the city for the conduct of your staff and volunteers. Both of you wasted little time in sending your wishes and prayers to Ms. Todd when the news reports were initially circulated, and so I trust that neither of you will waste anymore time leaving this issue unresolved. I would also ask that you send my personal prayers and well wishes to Ms. Todd and her family. I am certain these are trying times for them.


Reverend Ricky V. Burgess

President Pro-Tempore

Pittsburgh City Council

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