Thomas Mesereau Honored
LOS ANGELES – Gospel music rocked the rafters Sunday as the mayor and police chief of Los Angeles joined hundreds of members of a black church to honor Michael Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., as "a champion of justice."
Mesereau, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief Bill Bratton swayed and clapped as a band played and a choir of young people sang religious songs in a rock tempo. They also presented a medeley of upbeat numbers in praise of America.
"We are here to honor a man who is setting an example for all of us," the mayor told the packed chapel at Brookins Community African Methodist Church. He noted that Mesereau is "a white man who has for many years now marched with the mothers of Watts against gang violence. He co-founded a legal clinic for the indigent."
He noted that Mesereau also travels to Alabama every year to defend a death penalty case free of charge.
"Anytime I get the opportunity to acknowledge those among us willing to reach out as Tom has, I’m truly honored," said the mayor, who presented Mesereau with a city proclamation.
The pastor of Brookins, Rev. Dr. Frederick O. Murph, said, "When I look at Tom I see a rainbow. I think of Tom as a brother."
The Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, recently retired pastor of the First AME Church of Los Angeles and an icon of the black community, remembered separate occasions when Mesereau brought Jackson and former client Robert Blake to church with him.
With Sunday’s service focusing on a reading from Daniel, Murray described Mesereau as "an attorney not intimidated in the lion’s den."
"You saw him with Michael Jackson doing the impossible," said Murray. The remark brought sustained applause.
Also attending the service was Carl Douglas, a member of the O.J. Simpson defense team, and Susan Yu, one of the lawyers who helped Mesereau defend Jackson.
Bratton said outside the church that he and his wife, attorney and TV personality Ricki Kleiman, met Mesereau several years ago and became familiar with his work.
"This is a city of many neighborhoods," said Bratton. "It’s important to have people like Tom who reach out beyond their own neighborhood."
Mesereau told the group: "I am so touched, so honored and so privileged. I thank all of you very much."
Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges in June after a five-month trial in Santa Maria, Calif. The singer has been living in Bahrain since then.
Source: Mercury News