ATF Discovers Ninja Don’t Use Guns

by Azreel | April 13th, 2006

From Red and Black

Ninja vs. Pirate day started as an innocent way to meet people and invite them to the Wesley Foundation, the United Methodist group on campus.

Ninjas were supposed to say, “Hi-ya doing?” while pirates would introduce themselves to students with a “How arrrr you doing?”

Unfortunately for Jeremiah Ransom, the sophomore detained by Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm agents Tuesday, he was introduced to an agent’s knee.

“I have a good bruise on my back where he had his knee on me,” Ransom said.

Camera phone photos submitted to The Red & Black by student Kathleen Ruark showed an ATF agent kneeling on Ransom’s neck while other agents looked on.

Ruark and a friend noticed Ransom approach Snelling Dining Hall, but she dismissed the sight at first: “There are random people like that all the time.”

Ruark snapped to attention, however, when she saw a man in a polo shirt and khaki pants yelling for people to get down.

Though Ransom seemed in good spirits about the incident — he even changed his Facebook profile picture to a “wanted” poster featuring himself in the ninja gear that got him in trouble — but he said he is considering a lawsuit.

Ransom said he plans to meet with an attorney to discuss possible legal action against the ATF for their treatment of the situation.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Vanessa McLemore could not be contacted by press time.

Having dressed up as a ninja for his part in Wesley’s spirit week event, Ransom was stopped by ATF agents who interpreted his clothing and behavior as suspicious.

The agents were on campus for Project Safe Neighborhoods, a training program they put on for state and local law enforcement. Tuesday’s program was hosted by University police.

Ransom was apprehended as he jogged from Wesley to nearby Snelling.

“One of the guys yelled I had a gun, tackled me and asked where my gun was,” Ransom said.

After telling agents he only had his keys, wallet and cell phone on him, Ransom said the agent pinning him to the ground responded that, being trained officers, they would not mistake any of those items for a gun.

The dialogue between Ransom and the agent went back and forth, with the agent insisting Ransom had a gun, and Ransom insisting he was unarmed.

Ransom said he explained to the plainclothes agents, that he was participating in an event, and that other costumed people were at the Wesley building.

“I told them, ‘There’s 30 other people dressed up as pirates and ninjas’,” Ransom said.

During the incident, several people from Wesley approached the scene to talk with police and explain the group was having an event.

University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said he was unhappy with how the situation was handled, but later had a “constructive talk” with an ATF supervisor.

“I can see how as law enforcement officers, they interpreted what they saw as suspicious,” Williamson said, “but the police have to show a bit of due diligence.”

Ransom explained Wesley’s Spirit Week as a way to get pumped up about inviting people into the group, and that they were having theme days all week.

Monday was ’80s Day, and on Wednesday, participants dressed up to fit a Hawaiian theme.

Ransom was doubtful the group would cut back on events or costumes for Spirit Week, but said organizers have suggested students steer clear of wearing masks

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