CMU noose report sent to prosecutor

By |2018-01-16T05:33:04-05:00December 6th, 2007|News|

Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick said Nov. 29 he had received the investigation report from Central Michigan University police about four nooses found on the campus, but he declined to say what if any action he was preparing to take in the case.
“I don’t want to go into what all goes into this (decision),” Burdick said in a phone interview. “I don’t make those kinds of public statements.”
However, an assistant, who asked not to be named, said Burdick was waiting for a report from the FBI. “We do not have the entire report,” the assistant said. “We are awaiting more information from the FBI. Everything is still being reviewed.”
CMU spokesman Steve Smith said the police report was turned over to the prosecutor on Nov. 26. “The FBI did review our report and did contribute to that. There will be a separate FBI report,” Smith said.
The noose incident is one of a number that have been reported around the country in recent months, stoking racial tensions. It was also the fourth anti-minority incident on the CMU campus since April.
Burdick’s actions — or perceived lack of actions — have come under some fire.
In an e-mail, the Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the National Council for Community Empowerment, and Pastor David A. Bullock of the National Clergy Caucus said that when members of the council and two CMU students met last with Burdick, “He (Burdick) was unwilling to provide a timeline for making a decision in the case. More importantly, he suggested that prosecution may not be in order because the incident might have been a prank and devoid of racial content, intimidation or harmful in anyway.”
Williams lead a protest that drew more than 30 students on the campus Nov. 18. As result of the way he said Burdick responded in their meeting, he is calling for a national day of protest at the Isabella Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 7.
Burdick questioned the comments Williams and Bullock made in their e-mail. “I did not give them a specific timeline and I would not do that with any case,” Burdick said. “How would I give them an estimate before there was a completed review?”
In reference to prosecuting the CMU student who reportedly has admitted to hanging the nooses as a prank, Burdick said, “What I told them was that the statute requires I have to prove an intent to intimidate a racial group.”
Asked if he would meet with protestors on Dec. 7, Burdick said, “I have not given it any thought.” He said he would not discuss publicly an investigation or his review of it.
Smith said CMU President Michael Rao welcomes the protestors. “He is being proactive in this measure,” Smith said of Rao, adding that he wanted to meet with protest leaders. Smith said college officials were making calls to Williams and others to arrange the meeting with Rao.
“We don’t want to see this discussion just go away after a couple of weeks,” Smith said of the aftermath of the noose incident and the other anti-minority incidents this year. “We are continuing to work on the 22 charges the president issued last December on diversity issues.”

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