Attendees at King fete find their tires slashed

January 19, 1993|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

WICOMICO COUNTY — An act of vandalism marred last night's Martin Luther Kin holiday celebration in Salisbury, as tires were slashed on the cars of dozens of people attending a dinner at the county Youth and Civic Center.

"I thought we had moved beyond that," said the dinner's main speaker, the Rev. Emmett C. Burns, a Woodlawn minister and civil rights activist who is campaigning to become the NAACP's next executive director.

"It was a terrible incident; over 100 cars were slashed," Mr. Burns said. "Where was the security? I did not see one policeman anyplace, outside or inside. . . . I was told they had never had an incident like this before and never expected anything like that to happen."

Mr. Burns said he was addressing the crowd of more than 1,300 people when a former county NAACP chairman informed him of the incident. He said he told the audience after finishing the speech, which touched on the history, teaching and philosophy of Dr. King, and challenges facing people of all races.

"The next civil rights movement will indeed be black and white together because the problems we face as a nation are more American than racial," he said, recounting his speech.

Then, he said, the audience moved outside to see the damage.

"There was no panic. People quietly went out to their automobiles and began to change their tires."

The sheriff's office, which is responsible for policing the civic center just outside the city limits, put the number of cars with slashed tires at 59.

The county Crime Solvers organization offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or indictment in the vandalism, which was believed to have occurred between 7:30 and 8.

Mr. Burns -- who has been traveling cross-country in recent days to attend King holiday events and campaign for the national NAACP leadership post -- said he arrived at the civic center about 7 p.m. and saw nothing amiss on the parking lot.

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