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Gideon's Army apologizes for racial slur against Meharry president

Group appears to be in damage control
Posted: 5:29 PM, Dec 21, 2021
Updated: 2021-12-21 18:29:03-05
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The controversial Nashville non-violence group Gideon's Army appears to be in damage control following a NewsChannel 5 investigation, even apologizing for a racial slur directed against the respected head of Meharry Medical College.

One of the top leaders of Gideon's Army, Chef Mic True, had called Dr. James Hildreth a "house n-----" in response to Hildreth's advocacy for COVID vaccines. He also accused Hildreth of being a "token boy, a poster boy to spread that infestation amongst our people."

Gideon's Army founder and CEO Rasheedat Fetuga had initially declined to apologize when confronted with True's words.

"We would like to apologize for the harm that was caused by the heated words used by a member of Gideon’s Army two years ago at the onset of the pandemic, which were hurtful," Fetuga said in a recent post on Gideon's Army's social media accounts.

Related: Gideon's Army leaders voice controversial views

In fact, the video of True's rant, uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, was posted just 10 months ago on Feb. 16, 2021.

"I would also like to personally apologize," Fetuga continued. "This work, like peacebuilding, is complicated and we have all been figuring this out as we go."

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Gideon's Army apology

In other videos, True had suggested that Black communities should arm themselves and make police fear getting killed if they came into those communities to make arrests.

Gideon's Army has never apologized for those remarks, nor for provocative statements by another Gideon's Army leader, Hambino Godbody, that all Caucasians are evil and "you cannot live in peace with them.”

But a national advocacy group that has provided more than $100,000 in funding to the group has expressed its concerns.

"Violence interruption programs are extremely effective in doing complex and difficult work across the country, but these are concerning allegations against an affiliate of Gideon’s Army that must be taken seriously," said Michael-Sean Spence, senior director of community safety initiatives for Everytown for Gun Safety. "We’ve discussed the allegations with the organization’s leadership and will continue to monitor the situation closely as they address it."

In addition, Fetugua has recently suggested that Gideon's Army will finally open a market that it had purchased in the spring of 2020.

Our investigation discovered the group had falsely claimed in its fundraising appeals that the market was already open, offering "fresh and healthy produce" to the community.

Related: The stories Gideon's Army tells

Almost $400,000 of donor money was used to buy the market.

However, when NewsChannel 5 Investigates visited the location a few weeks ago, there was no sign of food of any kind, although an employee of a local beer distributor did show up to install beer signs in every window.

In the last week, Gideon's Army posted a video on Instagram of the inside of a sparsely stocked store.

"We will be opening soon," the post claimed. "Sorry, no hot food yet but we are working on that. There also won’t be any beer right now. We are new to this and taking our time to do it right."

This week, Fetuga posted a nearly 10-minute Facebook Live video in which she claimed that the store would open after the first of the year.

All of the beer signs appeared to have been removed from the store windows.

"I just wanted to show y'all what we've been working on," Fetuga said, calling it, "a beautiful blessing, unexpected project."

"Thank you to everybody who helped and donated," she said.

In addition, Gideon's Army posted crime stats that purport to show a drop in violent crime in the 37208 ZIP code.

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Gideon's Army post

The group had been working to interrupt crime in the Cumberland View public housing development, a tiny portion of the 37208 ZIP code.

Our investigation discovered that Gideon's Army had falsely claimed that it had completely eliminated all violent crime in Cumberland View for a 10-month period, overlooking shootouts in which its own employees were involved.

Related: Gideon's Army exaggerates success in reducing violent crime

NewsChannel 5 Investigates has not yet been able to confirm the accuracy of the crime stats included in the post.

The damage control efforts come as Gideon's Army tries to convince city officials to hand over $1 million that the group had lobbied the Metro Council to include in this year's budget for violence interruption efforts.

Related: Gideon's Army 'violence interrupter' to plead guilty to federal firearms charges

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