The Boston City Council voted overwhelmingly this afternoon to expel Councilor Chuck Turner from office, ousting a polarizing politician who had tirelessly represented Roxbury for a decade but was convicted in a federal bribery case.
The final tally came to 11-1 against Turner, with only Councilor Charles C. Yancey of Mattapan voting against removal. Turner abstained from the vote because he had a financial stake in the outcome and will now lose his biweekly paycheck of $3,365.38.
The expulsion, which is effective Friday, marked the first time in the 100-year history of the City Council that a member has been removed from office. Turner represented the heart of Boston's African-American community and has accused the FBI and federal prosecutors of targeting him because he is black.
"The reality is that the conviction that is being used as the reason for my removal ... was a setup," he told fellow councilors in a speech before the vote. "That conviction was rotten."
After the vote, he called the council's decision "a grievous error."
Turner was convicted a month ago of four felonies for taking a $1,000 bribe to help a businessman obtain a liquor license -- and then lying about it later to investigators.
The hearing was preceded by a rally of about 100 Turner supporters on the building's front steps. It was punctuated by cries from the supporters, with one man warning, "The world is watching today" after Turner's initial remarks and others chanting "Unjust!" and "Shame!" after the vote.
Outside the chamber after the vote, Theresa Hall, 54, of Mattapan, decried the council's action. "I think it's a travesty because he's a good man," she said.
Hall said Turner helped her mother find an apartment many years ago.
Curdina Hill, of Jamaica Plain, also said the vote was an injustice. "There's a double standard operating for white officials and black officials," she said.
Francis Awosefaju, 66, of Roxbury, also said he was angered by the vote. "I think the way they (voted) is based on prejudice, because they set him up," he said.
Turner had urged his colleagues to postpone any vote until he is sentenced in US District Court Jan. 25 in the hope that he could receive probation and complete his term, which ran through 2011. But earlier this week, he vowed not to offer any amendments that could delay any action.
A special election will be held to fill his seat representing District 7, which includes Roxbury, Lower Roxbury, and parts of the Fenway, South End, and Dorchester. A preliminary election would likely be held on a Tuesday in mid-February or early March, with a final election to follow 28 days later.
At the beginning of the hearing, Yancey fought to have the vote on expulsion delayed. "I demand that we refrain from taking any action today," he said.
"We all know that Chuck Turner is not perfect," he told fellow councilors later in the hearing. "But neither are we."
Turner was arrested in 2008 as part of an FBI sting that initially netted only Turner and one other black politician, Dianne Wilkerson, although a white business executive was later charged and pleaded guilty. A jury convicted Turner of taking money from a black businessman who sought help getting a liquor license and then repeatedly lying about it to FBI agents. The businessman was paid by the FBI to secretly record the transaction.
Surveillance video of Turner accepting a greenish wad in the palm of his hand became key evidence against the councilor at trial. Turner testified in his own defense but could not explain what was handed to him that day in his district office, saying repeatedly on the stand, "I don't remember."
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more