Pubdate: Fri, 12 Dec 2003
Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)
Copyright: 2003 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Seanna Adcox
Bookmark: (Racial Issues)
Bookmark: (Ashcroft, John)
Bookmark: ( Students - United States)


The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Thursday he wants U.S. Attorney General John
Ashcroft to
intervene and call for the prosecution of police involved in the Nov. 5 drug
search at
Stratford High School in Goose Creek and the fatal shooting two days later of
a mentally
ill black man in North Charleston.

In a separate move in the drug-raid case, the state chapter of the
American Civil Liberties Union plans to file a lawsuit Monday on
behalf of 20 students. It claims Goose Creek officers used excessive
force, falsely imprisoned students and violated search and seizure
laws, said Executive Director Denyse Williams.

"We just want to make sure this never happens to any child in any
school again," she said.

Jackson plans to return to the Charleston area Saturday for the second
time this month for a series of community rallies set to culminate
with a march leaving Charity Baptist Church on East Montague Avenue in
North Charleston at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Marchers will continue down Mall
Drive to North Charleston City Hall.

They will "protest excessive use of force against youngsters in a
failed drug raid by the police at Stratford High in Goose Creek, S.C.,
and in the death of Asberry Wylder at the hands of police," according
to the Web site of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which Jackson founded.

"We want to meet with Ashcroft on this matter," Jackson said. "The
Department of Justice must assure people their basic rights will be

On Nov. 5, 14 Goose Creek officers went into Berkeley County's largest
school around 6:45 a.m., several with guns drawn. Police handcuffed
about a dozen of the more than 100 students in the hallway while a
barking police dog sniffed their backpacks. Officers found no drugs
and made no arrests.

Some parents say the raid targeted black students. About 70 percent of
the students involved were black.

On Nov. 7, North Charleston officers twice shot Wylder after they say
he tried to stab an officer arresting him for stealing from a grocery
store. The officer was not hurt.

"There is a pattern of attacks on blacks by police around the
country," Jackson said. "It becomes the Department of Justice's job to

Citing a conflict of interest, local prosecutor Ralph Hoisington
declined to rule on whether Goose Creek officers should face criminal
charges and instead sent the case to state Attorney General Henry
McMaster. Hoisington is reviewing the Wylder case.

The FBI is investigating the cases and will forward its findings to
the U.S. Justice Department.

Jackson wants Ashcroft to authorize federal prosecutions and ask
Congress to designate money to better train officers. He plans to ask
to meet with Ashcroft within the next few days, said his spokeswoman
Keiana Barrett.

Nathaniel Ody, father of two sons named as plaintiffs in the ACLU
lawsuit, said Jackson's presence will bring attention to the case.

"These children were being obedient," Ody said. "For them to be
treated in this kind of matter has to stop."

Defendants include Principal George McCrackin, Superintendent Chester
Floyd and every teacher, coach and police officer involved in the
raid, Williams said. The suit seeks monetary damages. She gave no sum

"I think it's unconscionable, bigoted and reprehensible to have
unholstered guns and dogs in the presence of children..." said the
Rev. Joseph Darby of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston. "I would
hope (Jackson's) visit is followed up by positive action by local

Parent Sharon Smalls said she hopes Jackson's presence will unite

"I think the community thinks this is a black-and-white issue, and
it's not," said Smalls, who said officers slammed her son to the
ground. "It's a right-and-wrong issue."

Smalls said she met with Jackson during his last visit and asked him
to come back. About 500 people attended his Nov. 4 rally at St. Paul
AME Church in North Charleston.

Jackson will meet with Goose Creek parents, students and others at 6
p.m. Saturday at the Church Of God In Christ in Goose Creek.

His return and the upcoming march will send a message, Elder James
Johnson of the Charleston Rainbow/PUSH coalition said.

"We're going to show the community we can organize and do something
about police brutality," Johnson said.

Jackson's Sunday schedule includes a worship service at 11 a.m. at
Morris Street Baptist Church in Charleston, a 4 p.m. rally at
Georgetown High School and a 7:30 p.m. rally at Charity Baptist Church
in North Charleston. A voter registration drive will start at 9 a.m.
Monday at Burke High School in downtown Charleston. He will also
attend a 6:30 p.m. town hall meeting Monday organized by the state
NAACP at Westview Primary School in Goose Creek.

Post and Courier staff writer Phillip Caston contributed to this report.
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