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John Preer/SPECTATOR Sheppard shares his views with students at a protest on April 20, a few days after he was seen stepping on an American flag.

Protestor being sought by police; parents issue plea

Written by: Kenzie Kesselring, Asst. Opinions Editor

“This is positive. People are asking now. I’m actually trying to educate everybody,” VSU student Eric Sheppard said while explaining his method of protest to a fellow VSU student.

Sheppard is, as of Wednesday night, the subject of an intense local manhunt after a gun was found on campus and allegedly linked to Sheppard, according to police.

Sheppard first entered into the public spotlight after walking on an American flag in a campus protest April 17.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sheppard’s father, Eric Sheppard Sr., stood on the steps of West Hall beside VSU President William McKinney and asked for his son to come out of hiding.

“Son, you know we love you and have always taught you to do the right thing and make wise decisions,” Sheppard’s father said. “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.”

Throughout the past week, students and faculty have been in a state of concern. Everyone has been asking: Who is Eric Sheppard? What drove him and his friends to begin their protests?

Sheppard is a junior sociology major from Atlanta who began his education at VSU in 2011.

During Monday’s protests that were held to show support for the American flag and racial equality, students gathered around to ask Sheppard questions about him and his beliefs.

With all the contradictory information plaguing social media after Friday’s events, it has become difficult to separate rumors from the truth.

Through conversations with students, Sheppard revealed that he believes white privilege still rules America and that the impacts of slavery are still prevalent in America today.

“They are stepping on the flag because they feel betrayed by America,” VSU senior Mia Rawls said. “That’s the psychology and symbolism behind it. Although I do not agree, I understand.”

Michelle Manhart, a veteran who is not a VSU student, came onto campus after hearing about the protest from her daughter. Manhart attempted to take the flag from the protestors because she felt they were disrespecting it.

Manhart was detained by VSU police after refusing to give the flag back to the protestors. She was not charged in the incident, but is now banned from campus. The incident between Manhart and VSUPD was captured on camera, and that video has garnered millions of views after Manhart posted it on her Facebook page.

People supporting Manhart and accusing VSU of being unlawful, and people who believe VSU took the proper course of action, took to social media over the weekend to share their opinions.

However, according to the Texas vs. Johnson court case of 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it’s not illegal to deface an American flag. What the protestors were doing was against United States flag codes, but the flag codes have no criminal penalty.

Monday, outside of Odum Library, students and veterans with American flags and signs came to show their support for the American flag and their campus. The group that protested on Friday was back in the same spot with an American flag, Bible, Quran and pictures of Jesus on the ground.

After the protests ended on Monday around 4 p.m., an Instagram picture went viral. The picture showed three men, one of them Sheppard, posing with semi-automatic weapons and handguns.

Tuesday a campus alert revealed that police found a handgun a backpack on campus around 2:45 pm. Police said they linked the gun to Sheppard, but at that point Sheppard could not be found.

Sheppard now has a warrant out for his arrest, and police are calling Sheppard a threat to the community.

“E.J is not as chaotic or dangerous as they think he is,” said Lewis Cureton, VSU student and member of the Black Student League. “He is simply angry because he’s read a lot of history.”

Anyone with information on Sheppard’s whereabouts can call University Police at 229-333-7816 or 911.

Correction: Previously, this article incorrectly stated that Sheppard had photos of Kendrick Johnson on the ground at Monday’s protest.

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  1. Clearly this Sheppard is a racists and Black Supremacist that must be captured and caged. Promoting hatred and violence towards Persons of Whiteness cannot be tolerated.

  2. I saw plenty of videos from this event. This young man has a hostile way of explaining things but all I see is a scared young man. This is showing that black men are being killed and no one is doing anything about it. He sees the white Americans are controlling the judicial system that are letting unarmed black men be killed in street. This anger sounds deep and he is expressing it through his words. Lets be honest he was filmed the whole time he was on campus how come we don’t see a video placing him with a bag. Facts: Can show that someone clearly sought out an instagram photo with guns and this young man pegged “armed and dangerous”. Honestly, he will continue to run because he does not feel safe in America because black men are ending as targets these days.

  3. Old Glory should always be treated with respect. Many have died protecting our flag and what it stands for. http://starspangledflags.com

  4. truly appreciate the unbiased reporting. whoever is responsible for this article I respect a great deal

  5. This young man is innocent and has broken no laws . hope they piss off and focus on those killer cops instead of a student

    • He broke the law when he brought a gun onto campus. The state of Georgia is one of 20 states that have banned guns on school campuses. So, yes he did break the law and it’s considered a felony, which he knows and why he is on the run.

  6. Appears to be a very racist and dangerous young man. I hope they catch him soon !

    • haha don’t make me laugh…

      He’s not dangerous… he’s not harming anyone

      Open your eyes… White privilege is still very prominent in the US and this is what it is in case you didn’t know

      White privilege
      White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. According to McIntosh and Lee, whites in a society considered culturally a part of the Western World enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience. The term denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white persons may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely. The effects can be seen in professional, educational, and personal contexts. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.

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