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Jackson hysteria in the corridors of Congress

Justin Cole | APRIL 01, 2004

Michael Jackson waves an Israeli flag to reporters and fans before visiting with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee
Photo-AFP/Nicholas Roberts
WASHINGTON — Wearing red lipstick and a matching satin shirt, pop star Michael Jackson brought hysteria to the US Congress on Wednesday as he took a respite from his legal troubles.

Security guards fought to carve a path through dozens of screaming Congress staff as Jackson made his second visit to the legislature in two days.

With a grand jury hearing evidence into child molestation charges in California, the pressure is again on the 45-year-old singer.

But Jackson made no comment as he entered for a meeting with leading black US politicians to discuss efforts to counter Aids in Africa.

The singer announced that he had been invited to Africa this year following his meeting in the office of Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.

"I am so honoured to have the (African) ambassadors here, whose heads of states have invited me to visit their countries later this year," the singer said in a statement.

The star to be honoured by the African Ambassadors' Spouses Association in Washington on Thursday. Jackson and the congresswoman wanted to tout the singer's commitment to fighting AIDS, but onlookers said Jackson needs to clear his name of the charges against him.

"I think it's ironic he's here as he's accused of child molestation," June Nyanchoka, 22, a congressional staffer told AFP.

"He has to clear his record before he can do this," she said, standing among a crowd of about 100 fans, onlookers and reporters in a Congress corridor.

She spoke just before Jackson emerged from an elevator into the melee which surged forward, overwhelming Congress police, to see Jackson or snap his photograph.

Shouts of "Justice for Michael" filled the air, as the singer blew kisses and waved a small Israeli flag at fans, many of whom were young congressional aides.

Some offered support to the troubled singer who was arrested and released on three million dollars' bail on November 20 pending trial on charges of molesting a 12-year-old boy at his Neverland Ranch a year ago.

George Washington University student Alejandro Mongalo, 18, lunged forward arm extended towards Jackson as he screamed the singer's name.

"He extended his hand and I totally grabbed it ... oh, my God, I touched Michael Jackson ... that's really incredible," Mongalo said.

Jackson participated in a short meeting with Jackson-Lee after which the congresswoman told reporters he was planning a trip to Africa.

"He is going forward to be committed and will announce a tour in progress, or a proposed tour that will occur with the members of the ambassador corps who are here, who invited him to come to Africa," Jackson-Lee said.

"That tour, keeping in the mind the (legal) requirements in California, will be made good," she asserted. "Michael Jackson will go to Africa on the specific basis of fighting AIDS and economic development," she added.

The singer nodded his head in silent agreement as he stood beside Jackson-Lee before leaving amid more of the hysteria that had marked his arrival.

"All of the Hill is buzzing about the fact that Michael Jackson is here," added another young congressional staffer who didn't wish to be identified.

Jackson left en route to visit the Walter Reed hospital where US soldiers injured in Iraq are being treated.

Reports said the teenage boy who has accused Jackson of molesting him has testified at a secret court hearing in California.

The Santa Barbara News-Press quoted an official source as saying the youngster had appeared Tuesday before a grand jury assembled in secret to hear evidence aimed at indicting Jackson.

No details were available as grand jury proceedings are secret and a judge in Santa Barbara has issued a strict order warning reporters to respect the privacy of the hearings that began on Monday. – AFP

Related links stories
Michael Jackson: prosecution plans secret grand jury sessions [23/03/2004]




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