Willie Ricks Says He Was Brutalized by Morehouse College Police: Photos of Civil Rights Leader Show Bruised Shoulder (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA — (Update and Correction, 12/12/05: APN has spoken with Mr. Ricks and he says the charges were not dropped, even though an initial APN transcript of Ricks’s TDC documentary said the charges were dropped. APN will publish its exclusive media interview with Mr. Ricks in the coming days.)
Willie Ricks, aka Mukasa Dada, says he was brutally mistreated by Morehouse College Police, Atlanta Progressive News (APN) has learned.
Photos obtained by APN show that Ricks’s shoulder has a large purple bruise.
Ricks, a long-time Civil Rights Leader, and former leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who coined the phrase “Black Power,” says he was visiting Morehouse College Campus upon the invitation of a teacher at the College. The incident occurred November 10, 2005, according to Morehouse College Office of Communications.
“The Chief grabbed my right arm and the other man grabbed my left. And the guy who grabbed my left, he took my left arm, and jammed it all the way back and as far as he could take it all the way up toward my head through up in the back. And he pushed it up in the back. He tore my shoulder out of place, that hurt, and I can’t lift it. And he jammed my shoulder. And then both of them grabbed me and they forced handcuffs on me and took me down to the police station… and then the Chief said at that point, we’re gonna let you talk to the jail, we’re gonna put you in jail,” Ricks told the Talking Drum Collective (TDC) in an online documentary.
Earlier that day, Ricks said, he went to the cafeteria prior to giving his invited lecture. While talking with students, Ricks says he was approached by a Major C. Cox.
“He walked up to me and got right up in my face and said ‘Come with me.’ And he walked right up pushing me,” Ricks told TDC.
“I said ‘Come with you for what?’”
“He said ‘Come with me.’”
“I said ‘I ain’t going nowhere with you. Come with you for what?’”
“He just kept pushing me and being aggressive.”
Ricks says a Chief later came over, and the two officers pushed him out the back door. He says the charges have not been, but ought to be, dropped by Morehouse College President Massey (updated by APN 12/12/05).
“According to the Morehouse College Police Department reports, Mr. Willie F. Ricks, also known to some as Mukasa, was arrested on November 10 for criminal trespassing,” Morehouse College Office of Communication wrote in a statement on November 16.
“Ricks was arrested in violation of a written criminal trespass warning that had been previously issued to him. Over the past two months, police had verbally warned Ricks several times to stay off campus private property. On November 10, when he was approached by police and asked to vacate the premises, Mr. Ricks refused, which later led to his arrest,” Morehouse College said in the statement.
AssataShakur.com has issued a December 2005 Action Alert regarding the incident, which has been circulating on the internet, and was cited this week in the San Francisco Bay View. AssataShakur.com is asking advocates to contact Morehouse, demand an apology, demand that the officers be fired, and demand restitution for Ricks, aka Mukasa Dada.
Pastor Mmoja Ajabu writes in The Black World Today that activist Elaine Brown has had similar experiences at Morehouse, being recently banned from passing out flyers on the campus.
Ajabu also writes that students at Morehouse and local activists will plan to protest this incident on campus in January, around the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Atlanta Progressive News reached Ricks for an exclusive media interview after this story first went to print (updated by APN 12/12/05), and will publish his APN interview in the coming days.
Many questions remain unanswered, including the following, posed by Ricks:
“If the teachers basically tolerate and respect me, and Massey has said I could be on campus, what authority did the Chief have to go over the people?
“Is this some vendetta that he didn’t like… the Black Power Movement? That he didn’t like the struggle, being an Atlanta Black people officer? Is that where this is coming from?
“Where did he get his orders? Who ordered this? Where did this come from? Who ordered him to attack me? Who ordered him to put me in jail?
“Is this a police state? Is this a police campus? Does he have more power and authority, than the people, than the students at Morehouse? Where did this order come from?
“And why did he do this horrible thing?” Ricks asked.
Matthew Cardinale is Editor of Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org