Printer-Friendly Version
Click Here for PDF

"Crosses burned after election"
Chuck Whiting
The Crimson White
February 10, 1976

As many as 15 men cloaked in white sheets burned crosses, threw bottles and chanted various revolutionary tunes Thursday night in what some say was reaction to the election of the university's first black SGA president, Cleo Thomas.

According to the University Police Department, at 11:57 p.m. 15 people came out of the Kappa Sigma fraternity house with white sheets over their heads. They walked in front of several other houses along new fraternity row singing "We Shall Overcome."

At about the same time a throwing incident occurred between the Zeta Beta Tau Jewish fraternity and Kappa Sigma members, University Police reported. No other information from police sources was available on that incident.

UNIVERSITY POLICE also reported that an eight-foot cross was burned in front of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house.

In a statement released Sunday, the Inter-Fraternity Council said, "The executive council of the IFC condemns the events of last Thursday night involving cross burnings. We hope that the individuals who perpetrated such a deplorable situation realize the gravity of their actions."

According to Phillip Kelly, president of Kappa Sigma, he knew only of the incident involving his fraternity and Zeta Beta Tau. He confirmed that some bottles had been thrown and said that everything had been cleared up between the two fraternities. He said that this had nothing to do with the election of Thomas as SGA president.

Kappa Sigma member Tommy Battle, the newly-elected SGA secretary-treasurer, told the Crimson White Friday that he heard from various sources a cross was burned between the Kappa Sigma house and the Lambda Chi house. He said that members of the Lambda Chi fraternity took the cross down.

Battle would not deny that any of his fraternity brothers were involved in the disturbances, but he did say that any who did participate would were not acting as representatives of the fraternity.

"IT WAS THE action of a few individuals and not actions of any group as a whole," said Battle.

Battle blamed part of the incident on a "ZBT" beer bust. He said that those who participated were drunk and nothing would have happened if they had been sober. He confirmed that his fraternity also had a beer bust Thursday night.

Ken Metzger, vice-president of Zeta Beta Tau said that the throwing incident involving his fraternity was very minor. He said he would not base the disturbance on Thomas' victory. He said that no one was hurt.

"They got a little drunk and a couple bottles were thrown on our lawn," said Metzger.

ANOTHER ZETA Beta Tau member who refused to be identified said that hooded men were chanting words discrediting Thomas and that they put blame on his fraternity for Thomas' election. He said the men also screamed "kill the Jews" and threw bottles.

"We thought they were awfully offensive," he said.

A leader of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority who would not give her name said that the cross burning in front of her house was "no big deal" and refused to give out any information.

Afro American Association President Sylvester Wilson, Vice-president of SGA Sylvester Jones and SGA President-elect Cleo Thomas commented on the incidents.

"I'M SURE THAT what happened involves Cleo," said Wilson. "The Machine is upset."

Wilson said that Thomas represents all of the students now and not just the AAA. He said that no retaliatory action is planned and that members of AAA are writing the incidents off as the Machine letting off steam.

"It offends us and I sincerely hope the incidents will be contained to last night," said Wilson.

Jones said he feels that the actions were very sad incidents and especially humiliated the Zeta Beta Tau. He said something like this is not funny and in poor taste.