Langford was grand marshal of the city Christmas parade yesterday and put a cheerful face on his arrest and indictment. Judging from comments that people in the crowd made to TV reporters, some are willing to reserve judgment until the trial (which will occur at least half a year into the Obama presidency), while others are openly skeptical about the feds’ motives.
The manner of Langford’s arrest — he was handcuffed by FBI agents while his two (white) co-suspects were permitted to turn themselves in — has become an issue, implying discriminatory treatment. The U.S. Attorney’s office would probably argue that Langford was the one holding a position of public trust, so it was appropriate to publicly arrest him. But it does seem that they were obtuse about the racial overtones of seizing the one black indictee, and not the two whites. It would have been wiser to treat all three alike.
Langford was not shy about playing blacker-than-thou politics when he ran successfully for mayor. Fortunately he hasn’t (yet) tried to imply that his indictment was motivated by racism. As Danner noted, Langford’s trial will occur under the ultimate authority of an African American president and attorney general.