As San Diego Mayor Bob Filner met with attorneys and city leaders over what could be crucial negotiations over his future, a diverse group of his supporters rallied in front of San Diego City Hall on Monday, calling for people not to prejudge him.
Filner, who is accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit, also faces a formal recall effort as well as federal and local investigations into his behavior on the job.
"Let’s get back to the business of moving the region forward with Mayor Bob Filner,” said organizer and human rights activist Enrique Morones, who led the rally, which was staged in front of reporters.
Morones was joined by other supporters, including campaign volunteers, former city officials and other activists, many of them women, including one who maintained Filner was "far more than sloppy kisses."
Some supporters carried signs that read, "Due process for Mayor Filner" and "Vets for Bob," NBCSanDiego.com reported via a live video stream of the rally.
Floyd Morrow, a former San Diego City Council member, called allegations against Filner "chatter" and likened media coverage to a “public hanging.”
“I know that the law not only demands due process, but also the presumption of innocence,” Morrow said.
The group of supporters, dubbed “San Diegans for Mayor Bob Filner,” which was organized on Facebook, had intended to hold the rally as Filner returned to City Hall for the first time after weeks away for what staffers said was therapy and personal time.
But Filner was not seen at the rally or at City Hall. Instead, he was in a high-rise building a couple of blocks away meeting with city leaders, including City Council President Todd Gloria, Councilman Kevin Falconer and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. Gloria Allred, the L.A. attorney representing various women accusing Filner of inappropriate sexual advances, also attended the meeting, which were characterized as a mediation session, NBCSanDiego.com reported.
"Judge Lawrence Irving, a former district court judge is the mediator," Allred said. "He has asked us not to comment except to say mediation is ongoing."
The precise subject of the meeting was unclear, although one local media report suggested Filner and his attorneys could be in negotiations with city officials for a potential resignation. That has not been confirmed by NBC News.
The latest developments came a day after hundreds of people rallied in downtown San Diego calling for Filner's resignation and kicking off a signature campaign to recall him from office. Recall organizers have until Sept. 26 to collect the 101,000 valid signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.
On Monday, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a congressional candidate who lost to Filner in last year’s mayor’s race, called on elected officials to join in the recall effort.
"To have elected officials stand on the sidelines, cautiously waiting, is inexcusable," DeMaio told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday. "It's abdication of leadership. So I'm calling on these elected officials to put into action their networks of supporters, their resources, their campaign committees."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the numerous public people who have called for Filner's resignation, has said that he should spare San Diego the pain and expense of a recall election.