Friday, March 10, 2006
By Gwen Filosa and Brian Thevenot
Emerging from a 72-hour stay in Orleans Parish Prison on Thursday, embattled Clerk of Criminal District Court Kimberly Williamson Butler compared herself to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other civil rights heroes while vowing to press on as both a lame-duck clerk and a candidate for mayor.
The stint in jail solidified her as "the people's candidate," Butler said, particularly among people who have been incarcerated. While in jail, Butler had a cell to herself, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said.
"I represent every person who feels that their voice hasn't been heard, every person who has been incarcerated, right or wrongly," said Butler, dressed in the same red suit jacket and black pants she wore to court on Monday, when deputies hauled her away to jail on a contempt of court charge. "I can rank myself among many heroes: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Nelson Mandela."
Butler remained defiant as she re-entered the fresh air outside the House of Detention on Thursday about noon. The clerk, who speaks in animated flourishes, was adamant about speaking to the media on her terms. At one point, she cut off a television reporter with, "Excuse me, I'm talking right now. Thank you very much."
"I committed no criminal act," Butler said. "I was confined for my conviction that nine judges did not supersede the mandate of 71,717 people" who voted her into office in 2003.