Reverends Graylan Hagler, Willie Wilson, and others urged city officials and citizens to show respect to Mayor Vincent Gray by not "rushing to judgment" and prematurely calling for his resignation over the $650,000 shadow campaign conducted in his name during the 2010 primary election. The two spoke to about 30 supporters and 40 media people sweltering in the intense heat in front of the Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Avenue late Wednesday morning.
While Hagler stressed the need for patience, fairness, and unity, Wilson went on the offensive and cautioned Councilwoman Mary Cheh to "chill out" and "sit down and be quiet" and blamed the media for exacerbating the mayor's problems (despite the US Attorney labeling the campaign as "corrupt" and "sinister" last week). He also called for the Board of Elections to investigate the $5m Fenty campaign as he asserted "all campaigns may be found wanting."
Curiously, and despite the absence of an indictment from the Justice Department, one of the major themes of the rally was that Mayor Gray deserves "due process." Another surrogate said that the Mayor "deserves his day in court."
Perhaps most surprising of all was Hagler's statement that the mayoral position was actually a "pastoral" one in which his role was to call us all to a higher standard of ethics. "The city needs a pastor right now," he said. [I have previously heard this inferred but never thought that people in the District actually believed it.]
Media personalities and beat reporters alike engaged Hagler and Wilson before and after the event. Jonetta Rose Barren, who has argued that Congress should consider stepping in and impeaching the mayor, engaged in a spirited debate with Hagler before the rally. The ubiquitous Tom Sherwood, of NBC4, was intently seeking good camera angles and facetime with the pious.