Southern Illinois U. graduate Dick Gregory spearheads non-violent protest
February 15, 2001
By Brett Nauman
Southern Illinois U.
(U-WIRE) CARBONDALE, Ill. - Dick Gregory has experienced racism his whole
life. Now the activist and Southern Illinois University graduate will
starve himself in an effort to end police brutality against blacks in the
On Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Gregory began a hunger
strike. He will not eat solid food until Congress enacts legislation
forcing police officials, FBI and CIA agents to carry licenses with their
"If the Ku Klux Klan call me a 'nigger,' I can call them a name right
back," Gregory said. "If the Ku Klux Klan pulls a gun on me, I can snatch
it away from them and either whoop or shoot them with it. I can't do this
to a cop."
The 78-year-old former Saluki track star said he believes police brutality
can only be curbed by putting police officers in a position where they
would have something to lose, namely their gun licenses.
Gregory, Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III and other black activists
have founded a group called "Enough is Enough." The group travels to
different cities in the United States independently investigating cases of
police brutality. Gregory said the group has consistently found cases of
discrimination against blacks in the different cities.
"White people aren't complaining about black cops shooting their family
members," Gregory said. "Black cops know white people won't tolerate it."
In Chicago, the group protested the death of SIU graduate and black woman
LaTanya Haggerty. She was killed in a traffic stop on June 4, 1999. Police
said they thought she was carrying a gun, but it was actually a cell phone.
SIUC College of Engineering Administrator Bruce Chrisman remembers when
Haggerty was killed. She graduated from the College of Engineering in 1996.
"We had students in the department who remembered her," Chrisman said.
"There isn't anything worse for an educator than seeing one of your
Gregory and "Enough is Enough" also experienced police brutality in the
community of Riverside, Calif. Gregory, Sharpton and King III were all
thrown in jail there for protesting the death of Theresa Miller.
Police shot Miller 14 times when they said she went for her gun in her car.
Miller was epileptic and in the middle of a seizure when police fired at
her. Police said they saw drugs in the car causing them to search her vehicle.
The independent investigation conducted by the black community revealed the
police planted a gun in Miller's car. Gregory said the family settled out
of court for $10 million.
"That money won't bring back their daughter," Gregory said.
As a longtime friend of Gregory, Chrisman knows how serious he is about
this protest. He said Gregory has tremendous will-power when he has a cause.
"He started the fast at 150 pounds," Chrisman said. "He'll lose 60."
Gregory, who is also a nutrition theorist, has participated in more than
125 hunger strikes. In 1967 Gregory began a hunger strike against the
Vietnam War which lasted for more than two and a half years.
In an average day, he consumes eight lemons, four oranges and three
grapefruits in their blended liquid forms. He also drinks a cup and a half
of maple syrup and a gallon of water.
"As long as you get a gallon your body won't dehydrate," Gregory said.
Gregory, who lives out of various hotel rooms to accommodate his hectic
travel schedule, is prepared not eat solid food for years.
He realizes that many more people will have to participate than just
himself before Congress will feel much pressure. Gregory hopes big
corporations will put pressure on Congress to pass the law. In the end
Gregory said his cause will eventually accomplish its goal.
"What I am doing represents light," Gregory said. "Police brutality
represents darkness. Watch a sunset. Sunlight knocks nighttime right out of
2001 Daily Egyptian via U-WIRE
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