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Morehouse College Under Fire, Protest Planned

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By Matthew Cardinale, Atlanta Progressive News Editor, (January 19, 2006)

Note: Please circulate this one widely; ok to reprint where Atlanta Progressive News is credited. Pictures of Ricks's injuries--allegedly caused by Morehouse college--at http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/pages/22/index.htm

(APN) ATLANTA-Morehouse College has come under fire for the alleged brutality against civil rights veteran Willie Ricks, and activists are planning a protest next week on the campus, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Willie Ricks, 62, who also goes by Mukasa Dada, told Atlanta Progressive News in a series of interviews that he has suffered serious medical trauma for neck, back, shoulder, chest, and arm injuries. Ricks is racking up significant medical bills, he said.

Ricks, who has retained an attorney and is preparing suit against Morehouse College, is a civil rights veteran. He claims he has been visiting the Morehouse campus for almost 40 years as an invited lecturer by various professors and student groups.

He says he was about to give an invited lecture on the civil rights movement the day he was arrested. He claims a professor-who has not yet provided permission to be named-has written a letter verifying Ricks's invitation to the campus.

Ricks says he was personally assured by Morehouse President Massey that he was welcome on campus, when he met President Massey on campus in May 2005.

"Again, the President said it was ok for me to come on campus, a week before the May incident [where he also alleges he was brutalized by Morehouse Police]. I saw him on campus. And walked up and introduced myself to him, that I was an old veteran of the civil rights movement. That I was friends with the president who came before him. I wanted him to know that teachers invited me and that I would be talking on campus And he said it was 'ok with me [him]',"

Morehouse College-a historically Black college which graduated Martin Luther King, Jr., and received a $5 million donation recently from Oprah Winfrey-has repeatedly refuse to discuss the issue with Atlanta Progressive News reporters.

A spokeswoman for President Massey, Adrienne Harris, refused to confirm whether Massey had advised Ricks he was welcome on campus. Harris refused to provide APN with President Massey's email address, even though it was available through a simple Google search.

"I really do appreciate your interest in the story. The College has spoken; the statement that we have issued is what the College is going to release to say on this matter. We have said all we're going to say on the Willie Ricks matter at this time, about Willie Ricks period. If anything changes, I will personally call you back. I cannot share with you [the President's direct email address]."

Atlanta Progressive News finds Morehouse College's silence and efforts to shield media questions quite troubling. Morehouse administration's actions are raising questions about their credibility and raising suspicions about what they appear to be attempting to hide.

The College has not answered APN's general policy questions concerning the safety of students, teachers, and guests from such brutality; some of those questions are listed below.

The College has been flooded with letters, calls, and emails, according to numerous postings on the activist website, AssataShakur.org.

Officers C. E. Cox III and V. Worthy arrested Mr. Ricks for trespassing at 12:15pm on November 10, 2005, according to the Morehouse Police Report #05710865 obtained by Atlanta Progressive News. APN has numerous public records and interview requests outstanding with Morehouse PD, College, and President's Office. APN is making all of these documents immediately available to other media outlets by way of fax, upon request.

"The above offender was found wandering around inside the Chivers Dining facility with out [sic] prior official authorization. This subject had been given a formal warning on 03-18-03 by this agency."

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Matthew Cardinale is Editor of Atlanta Progressive News. He has written previously for the Sun-Sentinel Newspaper, Shelterforce Magazine, The Advocate Magazine, The San Francisco Bay View, and the Berkeley Daily Planet Newspaper. He has also (more...)
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