A student in Georgia who went into hiding after bringing a gun to Valdosta State University’s campus following a protest in which he stomped on an American flag was found and arrested in Florida on Thursday.
Eric Sheppard reportedly went into hiding after authorities found a gun inside of Sheppard’s backpack on campus in late April. Earlier that month, Sheppard made news for stepping on an American flag during a protest on the Georgia School’s campus. The protest went viral after veteran Michelle Mahart was caught on camera taking an American flag from the protesters and refusing to return it, the Palm Beach Post reports.
In a video, posted below, Sheppard explained his reasons behind stepping on the flag, saying that it represents “white supremacy racism which is plaguing the entire earth, so when we step on that flag we are stepping on racism, white supremacy.”
“We are stepping on the things that were erected alongside our genocide and our holocaust,” he said.
According to reports, U.S. Marshals took Sheppard into custody on Thursday morning in Tampa without incident. He is currently being held at Hillsborough County Jail, and reportedly voluntarily waived his right to an extradition hearing.
Sheppard's attorney, Muwali Davis, released a statement regarding the recent events:
Eric's decision not to fight extradition coupled with his peaceful surrender when arrested, confirms Eric is not a threat to the community. Unfortunately, what appears to be lost in the coverage of Eric's activism as a student is that he is merely a college kid trying to figure out life under some extraordinary stressful circumstances.
Physically he is fine, but mentally he is exhausted from living under the constant fear for his life as a result of the death threats and the bounty placed on his life by self-proclaimed "white supremacist" individuals and organizations. He does not wish anyone any harm and was reacting to the very aggressive and hostile threats of violence against him and the people close to him.
Eric has never been arrested or in any trouble. Even law enforcement authorities in Valdosta have dismissed statements they have made recently regarding Eric as a "publicity stunt".
Eric and his family would like to thank everyone who has prayed for his safe return to Georgia. He looks forward to learning from this experience and having an opportunity to properly process and address everything that has happened after he exercised his 1st Amendment right by engaging in public protest and freedom of speech.
He remains committed to being a positive agent of change and helping improve the conditions under which many people in our society continue to struggle in.
Photo Credit: YouTube