Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam struck a divisive tone at a Detroit church Friday night, saying former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is in prison today because of the color of his skin.
Speaking at the Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, Farrakhan also made paranoid, anti-Semitic remarks about “Satanic Jews” fixed on controlling the world.
Farrakhan said Kilpatrick, who was convicted on 24 counts in a corruption case in which he enriched himself by rigging contracts, was targeted because he’s black.
“I know he didn’t do everything right,” Farrakhan said of Kilpatrick, adding, ‘You think white folks in office weren’t playing a little on the side?’”
Farrakhan sought to downplay Kilpatrick’s crimes, saying he was primarily trying to hide a private affair.
“How many of you in this audience got a little something on the side?” Farrakhan asked. “So the boy made some texts. Why wouldn’t he lie? Wouldn’t you. That’s the natural reaction.”
It’s unclear how Farrakhan reconciled his defense of the former mayor with his comments earlier in the day about corruption.
“A thief cannot be trusted and those of you who like money, and you would rob yourself and the future of your people for a few dollars should be ashamed of yourself,” Farrakhan had said at a council meeting Friday morning.
In 2008, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr., who is black, ridiculed Kilpatrick and others for saying the criminal charges were racially motivated.
“Black folks tend to close ranks first and ask questions later when one of our own is in trouble, because we know the unfairness this country is capable of. I honor my people for that,” Pitts wrote. “But I’m sick of seeing our generosity cynically abused, our genuine fears manipulated, by brothers who have flat-out misbehaved. How often have we wasted political capital making racial martyrs out of guys like you?” he said of Kipatrick.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.