While they may disagree on several issues, a local Black Lives Matter group and Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of Police share a common belief when it comes to the city's top prosecutor Seth Williams. They both want to see him resign.
“Take a Kodak moment,” said Asa Khalif of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania. “This is probably the only time you will see Black Lives Matter and the FOP in total agreement."
A handful of Black Lives Matter PA protesters demonstrated outside of Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams’ office in Center City Monday morning.
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“We’re beyond the stage of asking Seth Williams to resign,” Khalif said. “We are demanding for him to leave. We plan to block the doors of the office and we plan on blocking the streets. We want to send a clear message not only to Seth Williams but all politicians that you work for us.”
Black Lives Matter joins several organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as politicians, including Mayor Jim Kenney, who are calling for Williams to step down after he was indicted on federal corruption charges.
"At a time when our citizens' trust in government is at an all-time low, it is disheartening to see yet another elected official give the public a reason not to trust us," said Kenney, a fellow Democrat. "That this comes at the head of our justice system is even more troubling."
The Fraternal Order of Police has had a contentious relationship with Williams and has also been vocal about wanting him gone.
Williams is accused of taking five-star Caribbean trips, free flights and $9,000 in cash from a businessman who sought help with a friend's criminal case. The man, whose company sold prepaid phone cards, also sought his help bypassing enhanced airport security during frequent overseas trips, authorities said.
Williams also is accused of helping a gift-giving bar owner and his brother seek a liquor license despite the brother's criminal conviction and spending $20,000 meant for his mother's nursing home care.
The prosecutor also belatedly reported on ethics forms last year that he had accepted more than $160,000 in gifts or services from friends, including a new roof on his home, $21,000 in flights and a family stay in Key West, Florida, at the home of a city defense lawyer. The filings, which came after the FBI started investigating, cost him a record $62,000 in city fines. The federal investigation then spiraled, listing additional gifts that authorities said came with strings attached.
Williams, who makes $175,000 a year in the top job, said he tried to keep his daughters in private school and their family home after his divorce. At the same time, he frequented cigar bars and private city clubs, and his love life made headlines when a girlfriend vandalized his city car outside his home.
Williams pleaded not guilty to federal bribery and extortion charges on Wednesday. He admitted he took more than $100,000 in luxury trips, gifts and cash while in office as he went through an expensive divorce. However, his lawyer vowed they would fight charges that he promised any legal breaks in return, a quid pro quo that would render the gifts bribes.
Defense lawyer Michael Diamondstein said pundits should avoid a rush to judgment. He did not say if Williams would resign.
"Simply because the government makes explosive allegations in a complaint doesn't mean they are going to prove it in a court of law," Diamondstein said after Wednesday’s arraignment, as Williams ducked into a waiting car.
Williams, announcing last month that he would not run for a third term, had said he regretted "mistakes in my personal life and in my personal financial life.”
Seven Democrats and a Republican are now running for his job.