Young's supporters picket newspaper Defenders promise to disrupt legislature if he loses chairmanships

December 31, 1997|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

Defenders of state Sen. Larry Young picketed The Sun yesterday, demanding "truthful" coverage of questions raised about his business and political activities, and promising to disrupt the General Assembly if Young is removed from the two Senate committees he chairs.

About 40 demonstrators marched in front of the Calvert Street offices at noon, singing the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," waving placards and accusing the newspaper of a vendetta against the Baltimore Democrat and other African-American public officials.

After articles in The Sun, Young's business and legislative affairs are being investigated by the Maryland prosecutor's office and by the General Assembly's joint committee on ethics. A closed hearing on about 20 charges is to be held Tuesday in Annapolis. Young's lawyers reportedly are preparing their responses to the allegations.

Yesterday, Young's backers said they would continue until he is exonerated.

"We have to be ready, brothers and sisters, for civil disobedience if necessary," declared Democratic Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV of Baltimore, a spokesman for the demonstrators, "if there's any attempt to remove the senator from anything he's doing right now. We're going to go down to Annapolis, sit in committee rooms, make the state police kick us out, stop the process because if they do it to Senator Young they're going to do it to me, they're going to do it to [Del.] Ruth Kirk and every black legislator in Annapolis."

The Sun's editor, John S. Carroll, issued a statement:

"I welcome any steps by Senator Young to shed light on the issues raised in The Sun's coverage. So far, I've seen nothing that causes me to question the validity of those issues. Senator Young has turned down our repeated requests for documents and interviews, but we remain receptive to any information he is willing to provide."

Yesterday's demonstration began with a prayer and was attended by Mitchell; Young; Baltimore Democratic Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks; the Rev. John L. Wright, president of the United Baptist Missionary Convention; Glenn Middleton, an official of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Dr. Edna Hill, an emergency medical care specialist who said Young had been a resolute protector of medical care for the "left out and shut out."

Addressing the other protesters, Hill said she believes Young has been singled out because he is an advocate for the poor. The newspaper stories, she said, are "an effort to undermine his credibility."

Mitchell criticized the newspaper for printing unsubstantiated charges against the senator. Asked why Young had refused to answer questions raised by a two-month investigation of his business affairs, Mitchell said Young -- who declined to comment yesterday -- did not believe he would be fairly treated.

Mitchell complained that The Sun has failed to report that a $300-per-hour, no-bid consulting contract with Coppin State College was reported to the State Ethics Commission in Young's 1996 financial disclosure form. The Sun's reports have said records show that Young did not report the contract to the assembly's joint House and Senate ethics committee.

Mitchell urged demonstrators to support Young with contributions to the LY Legal Defense Fund. Tickets to an event Saturday, a benefit variety show, are $50.

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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