In his district, constituents said the 88-year-old should be given due process before choosing to resign.


Detroit – While there are mixed opinions, constituents in U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ 13th Congressional District on Saturday said the 88-year-old should be given due process before choosing to resign.

A decision will likely be made by Sunday or Monday about whether Conyers will stay in Congress amid allegations that he sexually harassed employees, his attorney said Friday.

“He should be given due process first,” said Nicole Mattison, of Detroit, 45. “He’s been a figure for such a long time and there are mixed feelings but we need to believe in the justice system. He’s also a senior and has been in his position for a very long time. Congress should be preparing to groom someone else.”

The district includes parts of Detroit, and Deaborn Heights, Highland Park, Inkster, Romulus, Wayne, Westland, Redford, River Rouge, and Melvindale.

Willie Mitchell, from Detroit, said the city has been blessed with good representation by Conyers but should be up to the House Ethics Committee to decide whether he should finish out his term.

“It’s hard for District 13 to find a candidate...let nobody fool you John Conyers has blessed us. The next guy we get in there...who knows, could be worse,” said Mitchell, 68. “Let the process go, but if he’s guilty...I have three granddaughters and two grandsons, I need them to believe they can go out in the world and get a good job without being harassed.”

Conyers, who was hospitalized in the Detroit area late Wednesday, has repeatedly denied claims that he mistreated staffers, but calls for his departure intensified in recent days as two accusers went public detailing his alleged misconduct. They included House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and four members of the Michigan delegation.

“If people don’t trust you after they have elected you, then something has to change,” said Harvey Thiede, from Dearborn Heights, 69. “If the man is guilty of something and it’s flagrant, he should take it upon himself to do the right thing and say ‘I made a mistake and it’s coming back to haunt me, maybe I should step down.’”

Many constituents added if he found to have committed the acts, it wouldn’t change their image of him or the iconic work he’s done in his career.

“If he has used any taxpayers money to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit, as reported in the past, yes (he should resign,)” said Steven Bloodworth, from Romulus, 31.

However, some did not think Conyers should resign over sexual harassment allegations.

“I don’t think he should step down, he’s an elected official,” said Kenyetta Coleman of Detroit. “Just because someone accuses you of something, doesn’t mean you are guilty of it. He does deserve due process.”

Coleman said the allegations may have changed her perception of Conyers.

“I’d like to think that he was above that,” said Coleman, 46. It may change my perception slightly, but it does not undo all the good that he’s done over the course of his tenure in every role that he’s played.”

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP, said in an interview with The Detroit News columnist Bankole Thompson on Wednesday, he is troubled by the saga and insisted Conyers should not resign from office.

“It is a very painful situation. It is no question that women should be respected and protected at every level by all entities,” Anthony said. “I do not excuse nor do I negate anyone in this situation. As one who has and continues to be a supporter of Conyers since I first voted, I have never experienced what he is being accused of in my dealings with him. I have always seen him as a champion for everybody, women, dispossessed and neglected.”

Anthony said he doesn’t want the sex scandals to be the sum total of Conyers’ legacy.

Yvette Ivie, from Detroit, says she remembers when Conyers owned a Ford dealership and said she’ll love Conyers “no matter what happens.”

“It pains my heart, he’s 88 years old and the last person I would have hoped to hear this about,” said Ivie, 71. “I don’t think so, he still works hard and loves this city.”

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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