Context?Imam Shamsud-din Ali, a muslim cleric and Philadelphia power-broker, is in the third day of his federal racketeering trial. According to prosecuters, Ali stole thousands of dollars in donations from the Sister Clara Muhammad School. On a personal note, I worked with Shamsud-din on the campaign to get city council to pass a resolution against the USA Patriot Act. We had a few public meetings at Sister Clara Muhammad School and Shamsud-din personally lobbied several council members who were undecided. I always thought he was a pretty nice guy. I remember one time at a public meeting when some audience member was loudly denocuing Zionism, Jews, and pretty much all white people.
I was in the middle of giving a speech and, being one of like four white people in the room, wasn't really quite sure what to say. Smooth as butter, Shamsud-din stepped up to the microphone and gave an impassioned speech about tolerance the need for people from different backgrounds to work together for the common good. The guy shup up and meeting went forward.
However, I was still pretty shocked at these quotes from Pat Gillespie. Gillespie, who used to a Republican State Representative from Northeast Philly, is now the head of the Building and Construction Trades Council. The unions he represents gave thousands of dollars to the Sister Clara Muhammad School. According to the article, Gillespie says his high opinion of Shamsud-din wouldn't change, even if the charges were true.
I can't help but think the Daily News must be quoting Gillespie out of context. There is no way Gillespie said he would still like someone who stole thousands of dollars given by his union. That's a surefire way to get yourself thrown out of office by angry union members.
At least, one would hope.