Local Civil Rights Activist: 'If Sheppard Was An Activist, He Wouldn't Have Run'

Eric Sheppard
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Winnie Wright
April 29, 2015

Valdosta, GA - It's been more than a week since Valdosta Police issued an arrest warrant for anti-flag protestor, Eric Sheppard. He's accused of bringing a gun onto the VSU campus.

Local civil rights activist, Reverend Floyd Rose, says that's when Sheppard lost the right to call himself an activist.

Reverend Rose has been arrested four times for civil disobedience during the civil rights Era. He says Sheppard lost the title of activist when he brought the gun on campus, and again when he ran.

"I think now, he's put himself in a position where if he doesn't turn himself in, then they go after him. And they'll get him eventually. They may know where he is now, I don't know, but I do know this; you end up with more charges when you run. If he turns himself in, he's going to be better off. And then face the music," says Reverend Rose.

Eric Sheppard's family have hired an Atlanta-based attorney with a track record of representing what they call "activists." The Davis Bozeman law firm did not return our request for comment.

Winnie Wright
April 27, 2015

Valdosta, GA - Students, faculty, and staff returned to a more quiet Valdosta State University Monday after last week's protests surrounding the American flag.

Most of those protests were peaceful, authorities meanwhile, are still looking for Eric Sheppard, who is accused of bringing a gun on the campus.

Things are quiet on the Valdosta State University campus this week. A far cry from what you would have seen last week; with anti-flag protests taking place on campus, and the Flags Over VSU Rally just right around the corner. However, students say with finals quickly approaching, they're ready to get back to normal.

"The whole thing kind of put my work on hold, so I'm glad things are back to normal, so I can focus more," says Aniecia Defour, a freshman at VSU.

"I don't think it's a situation now where people are as scared and worried. It's more like 'it happened, we know it happened, we talked about it, we've come to an agreement on things'," says Tremaine Genias, a VSU senior.

What students and residents are still concerned about is the whereabouts of Eric Sheppard, the anti-flag protestor currently still on the run from police.

"We are still looking for him, but we continue to receive those tips," says Valdosta Police Chief, Brian Childress.

An online fund has been created to help with not only Sheppard's legal defense, but also money for shelter and transportation, something Chief Childress says won't be tolerated.

He goes on to say, "If we find out you're harboring him, you're going to jail, we see those same posts. You go ahead and try to harbor somebody after we've issued an arrest warrant."

VSU says until Sheppard is caught, additional security will be on campus as students head into finals week.

Chief Childress says the added security from last week cost the city almost $4,000 in overtime.

Winnie Wright
April 22, 2015

Valdosta, GA - Tensions rise at Valdosta State University as a manhunt continues for one of its own.

Eric Sheppard is accused of bringing a handgun to an anti-flag protest on the University's campus Tuesday.

Arrest warrants were signed by a Lowndes County Judge charging Sheppard with bringing weapons in a school safety zone, which is a felony. Authorities say Sheppard is also being investigated by the FBI for possibly making Terroristic Threats on social media.

The VSU Student became the face of the anti-flag protest, after he was seen wrestling Air Force Veteran, Michelle Manhart, for an American flag; a flag protestors had been walking on.

Tuesday, as anti-flag protests continued, a backpack was found abandoned on campus, that according to VSU Police, who say the gun was linked to Sheppard. Since then, Sheppard has been on the run.

This afternoon, a perimeter was formed between Williams and Slater Streets near the University's campus after two citizens reported seeing Sheppard, but he was not found.
Now, Sheppard's parents and police, are begging him to turn himself in.

"Son, you know we love you, and have always taught you to do the right thing and to make wise decisons. Please make the right decision and turn yourself in to either the authrorities, or to me, and we will handle this together", pleaded Eric Sheppard Sr. on the steps of West Hall, standing beside VSU President, William McKinney.

"He has not done anything to outright hurt anybody, so I'm asking him and looking at cameras when I'm telling you, Eric, come on in. Your parents want you to come in. We want you to come in. Come talk to us. Come talk to the police. We'll get this sorted out", said Valdosta Police Chief, Brian Childress, at the scene of the perimeter.

Valdosta Police say Sheppard is considered armed and dangerous. If you see Eric Sheppard, dial 911.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
April 22, 2015

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- At 3:05 p.m. today, from the steps of Valdosta State University's West Hall, the father of Eric Sheppard issued the following the statement:

“Son, you know we love you and have always taught you to do the right thing and make wise decisions. Please make the right decision and turn yourself in, either to the authorities or to me, and we will handle this together. We love you and are here for you, as you requested.” — Eric Sheppard Sr., father of Eric Sheppard.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
April 22, 2015

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- Valdosta State University Police have issued an arrest warrant for a man associated with recent protests at the university.

Police accuse Eric Sheppard of having a gun on campus.

VSU officers found the handgun inside a backpack on campus yesterday afternoon. The bag and gun were linked to Sheppard.

Police searched the campus for Sheppard but couldn't find him.

Authorities now believe that he's gone into hiding.

Sheppard has taken part in recent on-campus protests involving the American flag.

School officials say he's now taking it too far.

"The minute it becomes threatening those first amendment rights disappear," VSU President William McKinney said Tuesday. "None of us should threaten each other when it comes to our ideas, It goes against everything that a university, certainly that Valdosta State University, is about."

President McKinney sent out a statement Tuesday declaring this Friday as a day of reaffirmation for the campus

"Let us reaffirm those values that have made VSU a great institution for well over a century," McKinney said in the statement.

News Release: VSU
April 21, 2015

VALDOSTA, Ga. -- The Valdosta State University Police Department is asking for your help in locating Eric Sheppard. He is considered armed and dangerous.

At Odum Library at approximately 2:45 p.m., VSU Police were performing extra patrols as part of extra security in light of recent protests at the university. VSU police officers located a backpack on university property and inside the backpack a handgun was found. Unmistakable evidence has now been located by law enforcement linking the gun to Eric Sheppard. Based on that evidence, an independent judge has issued an arrest warrant for Eric Sheppard who has been recently been seen on television as a protester.

Although there was an extensive search for Sheppard by law enforcement, he was not located. He is now wanted and considered armed and dangerous. There is no evidence at this time to reflect that Sheppard is on university property and in fact, law enforcement now believes he is in hiding. We are asking for your help in locating him should you have information; please call University Police at 229-333-7816 or dial 911.

Eric Sheppard

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