Wanted flag protester arrested in Florida - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Wanted flag protester arrested in Florida

Officials said U.S. Marshals took Eric Sheppard into custody without incident in Tampa, Florida. Officials said U.S. Marshals took Eric Sheppard into custody without incident in Tampa, Florida.
Eric Sheppard's father made a public plea to his son, asking him to turn himself in. (Source: Valdosta State University) Eric Sheppard's father made a public plea to his son, asking him to turn himself in. (Source: Valdosta State University)
Students marched through campus Monday afternoon carrying flags, attempting to show their support for the flag Students marched through campus Monday afternoon carrying flags, attempting to show their support for the flag
Michelle Manhart holds an American flag that protesters were walking on (Source: YouTube) Michelle Manhart holds an American flag that protesters were walking on (Source: YouTube)
Michelle Manhart argues with police on video over the American flag. (Source: YouTube) Michelle Manhart argues with police on video over the American flag. (Source: YouTube)
TAMPA, FL (WALB) -

A protester wanted for allegedly having a gun in a backpack on a college campus was found and arrested Thursday morning.

Officials said U.S. Marshals took Eric Sheppard into custody without incident in Tampa, Florida.

He was wanted by officials after they found a gun in his backpack on the campus of Valdosta State University.

Sheppard was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail, where he is expected to have an extradition hearing, and will likely be returned to Valdosta.

"Once his extradition status is determined, he'll have an opportunity to wave extradition or he can ask for an extradition hearing. Once that is determined, then we'll make arrangements to go pick him up," said Lowndes County Sheriff's Office Lt. Stryde Jones.

Valdosta officials believe Sheppard had been in hiding since the protest.

His father made a public plea to his son in late April, asking him to turn himself in.

Inside the protest

Eric Sheppard was part of a protest on the VSU campus, where he and others were seen walking on an American flag.

The protest was disrupted by veteran Michelle Manhart, who was seen on video taking the flag from protesters and refusing to return it.

Manhart was eventually detained by university police and given a warning. She was then banned from the campus.

In response to the initial protest, flag supporters organized a patriotic rally for the American flag on campus, called "Flags over VSU."

Valdosta State administrators decided to suspend university operations on the day of the rally, which took place on April 24.

"We were relieved that [the arrest] was without incident and that [Sheppard] was not harmed in the process of that apprehension," said VSU Communications Director Andy Clark. "We look to the judicial system and the DA's Office from here to handle this issue, or take care of this issue further."

Eric Sheppard's statements

In a video uploaded to YouTube, Eric Sheppard explained to onlookers why he and other protesters walked on the American Flag.

"That flag represents white supremacy racism which is plaguing the entire earth, so when we step on that flag we are stepping on racism, white supremacy. We are stepping on the things that were erected alongside our genocide and our holocaust," he said.

"I am a terrorist toward lies. I'm a terrorist toward liars. I'm a terrorist toward those that are wicked, so yes, I am a terrorist toward white people," Sheppard also said.

MORE: Veteran and protesters clash over American flag

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