“Grambling State University is the place where everybody is somebody, and I am being treated as if though I am nobody.”
Those are the words of Nehemiah Smith, the publisher of The Inside Edition and critic of the university administration. Last Friday, Smith was arrested on numerous charges that stemmed from his being banned from campus.
According to GSU PD Chief Jefferson Walker, Smith has been charged with attempted first-degree murder of a university police officer, reckless operation of a vehicle, resisting arrest, endangering a police officer, trespassing on the GSU campus, and disturbing the peace.
“Mr. Smith willfully violated the trespassing order and came on campus,” Walker said last week. “We issued a trespassing warning in accordance with the law, and he trespassed on the campus of GSU.”
Smith, however, contests Walker’s statement, saying he has done no wrong and should not have been banned from the campus.
“What have I done to deserve such treatment at the hands of my alma mater?” Smith asked. “I am saddened by the fact that the people running my alma mater at the present moment would say that I cannot come on campus. That’s disheartening.”
Smith is optimistic about his chances in court, despite the six charges against him.
“I do believe that I will be vindicated,” he said. “I do believe that no one, not even the people that gave the order to have me arrested once I was seen on campus, believes the charges.”
Smith also said he has received the support of various alumni. “They are appalled,” he said. “They are disgusted by what has been done. They are prayerful. I’m appreciative of that.”
There have been conflicting reports on what exactly happened that Friday. According to Walker, Smith was “observed on campus at Grambling Hall by university police officers.” After a brief conversation with the police officers, according to Walker, Smith “bolted to his car and drove off.
“When he drove off, he drove off in a manner that threatened the two police officers,” Walker said last week.
According to Smith, GSUPD had not stopped him, and he was not in front of Grambling Hall. A friend of his stopped him after flashing his lights. After a short conversation with his friend on Main Street, a city street, one of the arresting officers approached Smith and said that he was supposed to arrest him if he saw him on campus.
Smith said he complied with the officer’s request that he pull over so they could talk. Smith was then asked to sign a trespassing order, prohibiting him from being on campus. He said he refused to sign the papers, and another officer pulled up and again asked him to sign the papers. Smith again refused.
Then, according to Smith, he drove off and was pursued by the officers. Smith was arrested at the Grambling (city) Police Department. Smith has admitted he still doesn’t understand the murder charge.
“Why would I attempt to kill two officers and then drive to the police department?” he asked. “Everybody that knows me knows that I would not dare try to kill a police officer.”
Smith also laughed at the rumor of him beating up police officers at the police station.
“I wouldn’t try to beat up any police officers,” he said. “That’d be against the law. Maybe the police officers were beating me up.”
Even after the fracas, Smith has refused to give up.
“This latest incident did not frighten me,” Smith said. “It did not deter me. As a matter of fact, it made me more determined to make sure that they go home.”
“They” are members of the administration who are mentioned in several issues of The Inside Edition that Smith wants removed from the university.
Among those administrators Smith is trying to oust are President Horace Judson and Vice President for Finance Billy Owens.
The incident has proven only one thing to Smith.
“Nobody’s safe anymore,” he said. “If this can happen to me because of words that were put on paper, no one is safe.”
“If they would do this to me, what then do you think they would do to you?”