Chavis joins effort to cool off colleges

March 08, 1994|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer

The NAACP's executive director joined student leaders at Morgan State University and Coppin State College yesterday in an effort to ease tensions caused by the arrests of two Coppin students in connection with the stabbing death of a Morgan student.

The Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, joined NAACP chapter presidents from Morgan State and Coppin State during a news conference at the organization's national headquarters in Northwest Baltimore.

A statement by student NAACP leaders said news of the arrests of two Coppin students Friday in the Feb. 17 killing of one Morgan student and the wounding of two others has created "an air of tension" at the two historically black institutions that are traditional allies.

"This is a proactive move. We believe in crisis prevention, not crisis management," Dr. Chavis said. "When there is conflict, when there is disagreement, we in the NAACP believe that the problems should be settled without violence, without harm."

Scott Stevenson, 20, and Mark Stevenson, 19, brothers who are freshmen at Coppin from Bronx, N.Y., were arrested in their dormitory room early Friday and charged in connection with the slaying of Sean Jones, 22, a Morgan junior from Elmsford, N.Y.

Scott Stevenson was charged with first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and possession of a deadly weapon. Mark Stevenson was charged with assault with intent to murder and possession of a deadly weapon.

Yesterday, District Judge C. Yvonne Holt-Stone set bail for Scott Stevenson at $300,000 and ordered that he be supervised by pretrial services officers if released. He was held over the weekend without bail. The judge kept Mark Stevenson's bail at $100,000, ordering that he also be supervised by pretrial services if released.

Two Morgan State students who were with Mr. Jones during the incident suffered knife wounds. They are Shanile Shakoor, 20, of the 5200 block of Leith Road, and Marlon Sullivan, 21, of the 5200 block of Loch Raven Blvd.

Police said the incident escalated from an argument earlier that evening when someone hit or kicked Mr. Jones' car when he was parking it on the Morgan campus. Police said the Stevenson brothers had been drinking and that two knives were used in the attack.

Dr. Chavis said he wanted to ensure that violence does not erupt at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's and women's basketball tournaments, which will begin Thursday at Morgan's Hill Field House. Teams from Morgan and Coppin will compete in the tournament. "We want to make sure that we have good basketball, good competition, school spirit, but no return to violence," he said.

Dr. Chavis, who had just returned yesterday from a five-day journey to South Africa, said he was encouraged that the student NAACP chapters came together after the arrests. "The NAACP will embrace the initiatives taken by students," he said.

Gary P. Foster, president of Morgan's NAACP chapter, said the two institutions share many goals, and Zachary L. McDaniels, president of the NAACP's Coppin State chapter, said the schools are traditional allies.

"Coppin State College and Morgan State University have always been friendly rivals in academics, athletics and on the social scene," Mr. McDaniels said. "However, this has not constituted a lack of support in any way of one to the other. In fact, the two institutions have been known to defend one another in the face of opposition and criticism."

A rally was scheduled for 7:30 tonight at Morgan to further ease tensions. The Rev. Medgar L. Reid, president of student government at Coppin, announced that a forum on campus violence will be held at Coppin State's Parren J. Mitchell Room at 5 p.m. on March 31.

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