Father of VSU protester tells son to turn himself in to authorities

Valdosta police are still looking for Eric Sheppard Jr., one of the protesters who was seen walking on an American flag on the campus of Valdosta State University last week.

While the protest of Sheppard and others regarding the legacy of slavery was judged to be legal, VSU campus police issued a warrant for his arrest Tuesday afternoon after officers found a handgun in a backpack. Police believe the backpack was left behind by Sheppard in the VSU library.

However, it’s illegal for anyone besides law enforcement to carry guns on college campuses in Georgia, and Sheppard has been evading police since then.

At 3:05 p.m. Wednesday, 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,” said Eric Sheppard Sr., father of Eric Sheppard.

Police said they consider Sheppard to be “armed and dangerous,” but not an immediate threat to VSU’s campus. Classes were held at VSU Wednesday, with increased patrols by both campus police and Valdosta city police.

Meanwhile, Michelle Manhart, the woman who was detained by campus police last Friday for picking up the protesters’ flag and refusing to give it back, has announced the details of a rally planned in support of the American flag and the military and says she supports a constitutional amendment against flag desecration.

On Friday, Manhart with join a veterans group in rally she said is aimed at showing support for the flag, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association 25-5, here in Valdosta, is organizing a Wheels Around VSU event,” said Manhart. “Because of everything that happened, I can’t attend anything on campus, so we are asking everybody in town, whether they have a car or a motorcycle or a two-seater, to join us at Crosspointe Church off of Northside Drive at 1 p.m. Friday.”

The group plans to leave the church parking lot and then drive continuous circles around the Valdosta State University campus, waving American flags. The group will then meet at American Legion Post 13.

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