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President Wilson, APD and Atlanta City Council Members Assure Students That Crime Will Not Be Tolerated

President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79 told students that crime and violence, such as the shooting incident that occurred on Feb. 1, will not be tolerated at Morehouse College.

“Safety and security are first and foremost in my mind,” Wilson told students during a meeting he called in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on Feb. 2.  “You are here to learn and you cannot learn if you do not feel safe and secure. So it’s our job to ensure that this is the kind of environment in which you can learn so that you can pursue the future that we have in mind for you and that you have for yourself.

“It is not going to be the norm here, gentlemen, that there’s crime and that you look the other way when you see it or sense it.  That’s not what we’re about [because] that has nothing to do with being a Morehouse Man.”   

Wilson talked to students a day after a Morehouse student was shot in the forearm by an Clark Atlanta University student following an argument after a basketball game in Samuel A. Archer Hall late Friday afternoon.  The victim was immediately taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.  The alleged shooter was arrested and is facing charges of felony aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon. 

That incident followed a series of robberies of students, mainly just outside of campus, that has raised concern regarding the safety of Morehouse students. 

To address those concerns, Wilson convened three members of the Atlanta City Council and two members of the Atlanta Police Department, along with Morehouse’s vice president for Campus Operations Andre Bertrand ‘76 and Morehouse Police Chief Vernon Worthy. 

The groups are collaborating to combat crime in a number of ways.  The Atlanta Police Department is opening a mini-precinct at the new Walmart store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and has added eight new officers to the area, primarily to cover the Atlanta University Center. 

Bertrand said additional campus security officers had already been contracted – their arrival on campus was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday evening – while additional security cameras have been added around and just outside of campus.  Shrubbery has been cut down to provide more lines of sight and the College has purchased vacant, dilapidated properties just outside of campus to cut down on crime. 

 “We are here for you,” said APD’s Deputy Chief Ernie Finley.  “We are committed to the issues and concerns to the issues in the AUC, as well as the other colleges and universities throughout the city of Atlanta.”  

Atlanta City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow, who once worked at Morehouse College, said students also play a part in safety. 

“Please report anything that happens to you in terms of crime,” she said, “[because then] we can bring in more reinforcement from the city of Atlanta.  I know that some of you are not reporting the fact that you are being victimized.  But we need to have your help in terms of providing us additional information.” 

After the meeting, students held a Stop the Violence march throughout the Atlanta University Center, laying roses in places where students have been victimized and singing peace songs. But before they left, Wilson assured them the entire Atlanta University Center community was with them.

"I support you," he said. “In my administration, on my watch, violence and crime will not be tolerated…. We all stand together in support of what you’re doing here.  I have some work to do in tightening our system.  We will work together, all three institutions and others, to make it better, make it a safer and more secure environment."