By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
In this atmosphere of newspaper neglect, it is not shocking that a legislative bill to create a statewide Martin Luther King holiday languishes on Senator Wayne Stump's desk.
And perhaps, in this spirit of neglect, it is not shocking that Senate Majority leader Robert Usdane can tell a visitor that a bill to create a Martin Luther King holiday is not all that important when you consider the big picture.
Race riots at ASU are not part of the big picture.
But before you can see this issue through the eyes of Senator Usdane, you must return to the SAE house where brother Hedgecock has a story to tell.
"I was outside the house playing with my dog," said Hedgecock. "I was just being mellow. These two girls came up. I didn't even know them. Then this jeepload of guys drove up. One of them was white."
It was about 9:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday night by Hedgecock's estimation.
The men in the jeep made remarks to the women, but when they didn't get a response, they started to drive off. They only went a few feet before braking.
"The guy yells `I don't believe you flipped me off, motherfucker, did you?'" remembered Hedgecock.
When Hedgecock responded, in kind, the guys in the jeep piled out.
"The white guy cold-cocked me" said Hedgecock.
The blacks in the group attacked Hedgecock with short lengths of pipe as the women ran into the SAE house for help.
When reinforcements came to Hedgecock's rescue, they, too, were attacked with pipes. The intruders were finally driven off and they departed in the jeep.
"They came back about a half hour later and were throwing rocks at the house," said Hedgecock. "One of them pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Jim Shait."
Although Shait was out of town and unavailable to comment, there is further confirmation of the use of a gun during the second confrontation.
"I don't want them coming after me, so keep my name out of this," said a second member of SAE. "I was twelve to fifteen feet away when I saw a black male standing there holding a pistol, a snub-nosed revolver. I ran back in the house as quick as I could and called 911."
By the time the police responded, the members of SAE had chased off the intruders a second time, following in their own cars and ramming bumpers at a stoplight before losing them.
Of the two women on the lawn with Sean Hedgecock and his puppy, one refused comment. The second would not allow her name to be used though she agreed to talk.
"The guys in the jeep were trying to talk to us but they weren't very polite. They were swearing. We just said, like, `no, thank you.'
"I didn't even know Sean's name until after the fight," said the freshman.
The co-ed confirmed that the white guy in the jeep threw the first punch.
After the initial fight, the young woman was inside the SAE house when the assailants returned.
"They were whipping rocks at the house," she said. "When I looked outside, someone was holding a gun up."
Following the second assault, things settled down on fraternity row until a little after one in the morning. The Friday night parties at the Greek houses were winding down and people were hitting the streets.
Darren Viner and his roommate Rico Walker got in one truck while James Liddell and Robert Rucker got into a second. All four blacks were leaving a party at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house.
After the events of the evening, the mere presence of four black men on fraternity row was apparently enough to trigger a confrontation. Never mind that they were not involved in any of the earlier disturbances.
"This guy started yelling, telling me to get the fuck out of there, that I didn't belong there," said Viner, a twenty-year-old junior. "Nigger, you don't belong here."
At that point, police officers from four different agencies began arriving as the racial taunts escalated and hundreds of onlookers watched various Greeks, not just SAEs, brawl with the four black men.
"I really believe the police department ought to discipline the officers involved that night," said Viner. "If that was protective custody, I'd hate to see an arrest. It's always the black people who get treated like that."
Rucker's handcuffs were so tight that he was in pain as he sat in the back of the squad car. As he shifted positions, he remembered an officer warning him that if he moved again, the cuffs would be tightened until tears came to his eyes.
"We were, by far, outnumbered," said Viner. "I was in disbelief. We didn't have any knowledge of the previous incidents. We didn't know what was going on. It really opened my eyes up to the bigotry and racism."
Hedgecock saw it differently.
"It wasn't racism. They'd just come from a party. Fighting after parties happens all the time. I heard people yelling out on the street so I walked out. People were saying, `Aren't those the dudes?'"