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Apology Sought in Activists' Dispute

November 12, 2005|Jean Guccione | Times Staff Writer

Two African American community leaders Friday continued to feud over an altercation that started with a poorly attended media event.

Activist Najee Ali called another news conference to demand a public apology for the beating he said he took from Nation of Islam leader Tony Muhammad's bodyguards. Muhammad said he didn't know who hit Ali, and suggested that the two men meet privately with other African American figures to resolve their differences.

The breach opened Monday when the two argued over the low turnout for a news conference in Leimert Park calling for clemency for four-time convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Muhammad said Friday that he told Ali that he should apologize to the nearly 80 activists in attendance for his failure to draw more media representatives. Ali "started raising his voice and shouting," Muhammad said.

The Nation of Islam minister said he turned to walk toward his car and then looked back to see several men kicking Ali, who was on the ground. He said he stopped the attackers but could not identify them.

With his arm in a sling, Ali told a news conference Friday outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Newton Station that Muhammad "stood by and watched me be attacked by his personal bodyguards, [and] did not intervene" as he was punched then kicked.

"I was attacked for no reason except for a verbal dispute," he said. "I did not threaten anyone."

Two ministers representing the Making a Difference Foundation joined Ali in calling for Muhammad's public apology. "If we show violence toward one another, what does that show to the younger generation who we are trying to teach to stop the violence?" the Rev. Rickie Williams said.

Police Department spokesman Paul Vernon said an investigation into the incident is continuing.

Ali urged Muhammad to cooperate with authorities. Muhammad said police had not contacted him about the incident.

Ali said he had suffered a "slight concussion," and head, neck and arm injuries and was under a doctor's care.

"The person who hit him should apologize," Muhammad said.

Muhammad, 47, is the Western states leader for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

Ali, 42, is the leader of Project Islamic Hope, which has spoken out on police misconduct and other issues, and is the son-in-law of W.D. Mohammad, leader of another national organization of African American Muslims and son of the founder of the Nation of Islam.

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