By Marisa Fusinski
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Incarcerated former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick needs your cash.
A dramatic YouTube video narrated in part by Kilpatrick’s mom, former congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick — and features a quote by Martin Luther King — asks the public to donate money to something called the Freedom & Justice Trust.
“The Freedom & Justice Trust is a fund that was established for the sole purpose of paying for Kwame Kilpatrick’s appeal,” reads the video’s caption. “The 28 year sentence he received was cruel and unusual punishment for an alleged financial crime.”
According to the website freedomjusticetrust.com, funds raised would be used for expenses including attorneys fees and court costs. “The definite purpose of the Trust is to raise money to free Kwame Kilpatrick from prison, and support efforts to realize justice in his legal fight.”
Visitors to the site are greeted by a slide show featuring photos of the former mayor and his family. Potential donors can click through to a page where the following statement by Kwame Kilpatrick appears under the header “Constitutional Violation.”
“I have never been associated, nor participated in any way, form or fashion with a criminal enterprise of any sort. I have never extorted anyone. I have never accepted a bribe. There were more than 80 witnesses that testified at my trial, and not a single one of them gave testimony that i did any of these things. I am not guilty of any of these charges. The trial was not about the stated criminal counts, but something far more. A lot of people know this, but don’t care. My fundamental rights to a fair trial were trampled upon, and i must continue to fight for my freedom, as well as the justice that is promised to me by the blood, sweat, tears, and lives of all american freedom fighters.” – Kwame M. Kilpatrick, 2013.
Prosecutors said Kwame Kilpatrick was the mastermind of a “pay-to-play” system for the provision of city goods and services which compromised vast swaths of city government, including the water and sewer system, the convention center, the pension system, casino developments and recreation centers.
He was sentenced last fall to 28 years in federal prison on convictions for racketeering, bribery, extortion and tax crimes. He’s also been ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution to Detroit.
“The longer the trial, the more costly it is for appeal, and we’re broke. Kwame’s broke, our family’s broke, many of our friends are broke,” says Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the video. “But we are getting the money for the appeal by the grace of God, because people still believe in Kwame Kilpatrick.”