Julian Bond Says He Never Used Cocaine; Won’t Take Drug Test
ATLANTA (AP) _ Civil rights veteran Julian Bond said Tuesday he has never used cocaine, as his estranged wife alleged and has since retracted, but he refused to take a drug test because ″it’s a real invasion of my privacy.″
Bond, a former state senator and co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, also said he would cooperate with a federal grand jury that reportedly is interested in the matter.
He bitterly criticized news accounts of the events.
″First, this involves a domestic dispute. And that’s, although typically not for the Atlanta newspapers, but that’s good newspaper fare; this is a domestic affair, a quarrel between husband and wife,″ Bond said.
″Secondly, it involves drugs, and particularly the magic drug of today, cocaine. That’s on everybody’s lips and far too many people’s noses and it’s a hot subject today. So it’s got these two elements.
″Then there’s hint of some police impropriety and there are black political figures involved. So mix all this together and these people become like sharks in the water. There’s blood and they’re after it,″ he said.
Bond’s estranged wife, Alice, walked into the Atlanta Police Bureau’s narcotics unit March 19 and told officers her husband was abusing cocaine, according to a confidential police memorandum cited in reports by WSB-TV and by The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution.
She also named other prominent Atlantans as users or suppliers of the drug, but their names were not disclosed.
While reporters were preparing stories on the allegations for weekend reports, Mrs. Bond telephoned the Atlanta newspapers’ office Thursday and recanted the allegations involving drug abuse by her husband.
He said he had ″not committed or been charged with any crime″ and added that his wife’s charges arose ″from our hurt and pain″ over an estrangement of nearly six months. The Bonds have been married for more than 25 years.
″It remains, however, our business, and not the business of those professional scavengers and gossip mongers who have made life hell for innocent people whose only crime is that their last name is Bond,″ he said.
He said his wife retracted the charges, ″and I am satisfied with her withdrawal. ... As far as we are concerned, the matter is closed.″
Bond, 47, left the Morehouse College campus without answering questions after reading a six-paragraph statement, but later fielded queries from two moderators on a talk show interview on radio station WGST.
″I’ve never used cocaine. Never at all,″ he said.
Bond, however, accused five reporters for The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution of being drug abusers. Bond said he would not name the reporters, and that his attempts to report the alleged drug abuse to the paper’s editor had been given short shrift.
″Mr. Bond is in error,″ said Bill Kovach, editor of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He said Bond never attempted to discuss any such allegations with him or any other member of the newspaper staff.
If asked by the grand jury, Bond said, he would provide the names of the reporters and people he described as eyewitnesses to their use of drugs.
U.S. Attorney Robert Barr has said federal agents are looking into the incident, and the newspapers quoted an unidentified source in Barr’s office as saying a federal grand jury would begin hearing testimony Thursday.
Bond was asked the nature of his relationship with Carmen Lopez, described in Mrs. Bond’s statement to police as her husband’s cocaine supplier. Mrs. Bond swore out a warrant for simple battery against the woman, charging that Ms. Lopez hit her with a shoe during a dispute last month.
Bond acknowledged that he knew the woman but would not comment further. ″That’s a personal matter,″ he said.
Asked whether the woman hit Mrs. Bond with a shoe, Bond replied, ″That’s our business. When it comes up in court, then it’ll be the public’s business.″
Asked if he believed public officials initially tried to cover up Mrs. Bond’s charges, he replied, ″From what I can see, no. But I don’t know all the facts. I’ve had nothing to do with it. I’ve talked to nobody in the police department. ... I’m interested in whether there’s been an investigation into how this material was turned over to the news media.″
The captain and two city narcotics officers who interviewed Mrs. Bond were transferred and the investigation was not pursued. Police Chief Morris Redding has said the transfers were unrelated to the Bond allegations.
On Monday, several Atlanta City Council members met in closed session with Redding and said afterward they were satisfied with his explanation of the transfers.
Although Bond no longer is a public official, the federal attorney said earlier this week that he is considered a public figure. ″There are public figures involved and that makes it a matter of concern to this office,″ Barr said.
In the radio interview, Bond said he had no objection to a police investigation of the matter and added, ″If there’s a grand jury investigation, then I’m willing to be a part of that.″
Bond was elected to the Georgia House on three occasions in 1965 and 1966, and each time the House refused to seat him, citing his statements against the Vietnam War. Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered him seated and he took his oath of office in January 1967.
In 1968, he co-chaired an insurgent group that unseated the hand-picked Georgia delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where he was nominated for vice president. He withdrew because, at 28, he was too young to serve.
He was elected to the state Senate from an Atlanta district in 1974, holding the seat until his latest two-year term expired at the end of 1986.
Bond retired from the Legislature to run for Congress, but lost to his long-time civil rights colleague, John Lewis.