Jesse Jackson back, now, hustling fight for Schiavo's life

By Sinclere Lee

After his scandal with another woman, I thought we were finally rid of Jesse Jackson, but he appears to have risen from his grave, and is back out on the road hustling the Black community.

Michael Jackson has been starting his trial days by praying with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the minister and the singer's spokeswoman said. Michael Jackson receives advice from the activist minister on both spiritual and personal issues, said Raymone K. Bain, the singer's spokeswoman.

``They've known each other for a long time,'' Bain said after Jackson's child molestation case recessed for the afternoon Tuesday. She said the singer usually wakes up at about 4:30 a.m., and talks to Jackson for 15 to 20 minutes. The two talk to each other by phone and pray together, she said.

Earlier in the case, the pop star received advice and security from members of the Nation of Islam.

Jackson said in a telephone interview that the entertainer and his family are Jehovah's Witnesses and the prayer they share is nondenominational.

``I counsel him and his family,'' said Jackson, a civil rights leader and former Democratic presidential candidate.

He said his main message to them is to ``stay focused.''

``This is a difficulty for all involved, the accuser and the accused. ... He will survive this,'' Jackson said.

He also said that it was unfair that Michael Jackson's jury has no Black members and he challenged a reporter to imagine a situation in which a white person would be charged with molestation and have a predominantly Black jury.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived Tuesday at Terri Schiavo's hospice and called on Florida lawmakers to have the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube reinserted.

"This is one of the profound moral, ethical issues of our time, the saving of Terri's life," the civil rights leader said. "And today we pray for a miracle."

Schiavo, 41, hasn't had water or nutrients since March 18 and is likely to die by week's end, doctors have said.

Jackson said he contacted Schiavo's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, to request a visit with her, but "he said he thought no."

Michael Schiavo had no immediate reaction to Jackson's comments.

Schiavo has said his wife would want the tube removed, and he has called on outsiders to stop trying to violate her wishes.

Jackson said he is "sensitive" to the struggles and pain that both Michael Schiavo and Terri Schiavo's parents and siblings, the Schindlers, are undergoing.

He said it is his belief that Terri Schiavo should be kept alive. "While law is important, law must be tempered with mercy to have justice," he said.

Jackson said he spoke with several state senators, pushing them to pass emergency legislation, and plans to contact more senators.

While he has sided with the Schindlers, Jackson said in a statement last week that he had "serious misgivings about the appropriateness of Congress intervening with the legal court process on a specific, individual matter."

That statement followed congressional legislation signed by President Bush that allowed federal courts to review state court decisions in the case.

The federal courts refused to overturn the state courts' decision.

In his statement, Jackson added, "a consistent moral and ethical position would extend a feeding tube to all who are confronted with starvation -- to demand public, government policy to feed the hungry."

Jackson traveled to Florida at the invitation of Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo's brother.

While Jackson was speaking to reporters, an apparent protester slipped past police into the heavily guarded hospice before he was arrested by police.

Officers used a Taser stun-gun to apprehend the man, who police said was Dow Pursley, a family therapist.

Capt. Sanfield Forseth with the Pinellas Park Police Department said the man would be taken to Pinellas County Jail and charged with attempted burglary and resisting arrest without violence.

Autopsy requested

Michael Schiavo has asked that an autopsy be performed on his wife after her death so that a full report can be done on the extent of her brain damage, his attorney said Monday.

Attorney George Felos said the autopsy will be performed by Dr. Jon Thogmartin, the chief medical examiner of Pinellas County.

Terri Schiavo collapsed in 1990 from cardiac arrest and suffered brain damage because of lack of oxygen. She has been in the center of a decade-long legal tug-of-war between her husband and guardian, Michael, and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.

Michael Schiavo maintains his wife would not want to be kept alive in her condition, while her parents claim she could improve with intense therapy.

Schindler supporters in Florida and Washington appealed Monday to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.

Bob Schindler spoke to reporters Monday after visiting his daughter at her hospice in Pinellas Park. "She's failing, but she's still with us," he said. "She has to be saved.

"I plead again that the powers-that-be don't give up on her. We haven't given up on her and she hasn't given up on us."

Terri Schiavo's sister said she "is wide awake and very responsive."

"She recognizes me," Suzanne Vitadamo said Monday. "She's weaker but she's still trying to talk."

Felos said he visited with Terri Schiavo Monday and that she appeared "very calm."

"I saw no evidence of bodily discomfort whatsoever," he said.

He said her condition had changed little from his last visit on Saturday.

"Terri's eyes do look more sunken," Felos said. "And her breathing was a little on the rapid side."

He described her pulse as "thready," or slow.

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