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Who was the man in the traffic vest? Nur couldn't remember what he looked like, and Short was not willing to name him.
In his first email statement, Short contended that the group had finished reading and refused to move on when the announcer reached for the microphone, that the police were never asked to intervene and that no one was assaulted or hurt.
"As a registered participant, they had agreed to not stop or slow the progress of the parade," he wrote. "We asked that the Black Lives Matter group rejoin the parade. As other groups continued past, we also asked for our microphone back. We were at first ignored, but our announcer retrieved our microphone so the rest of the parade could be announced."
Durham Police Department spokesperson Willie Glenn agrees that there was no use of force and that exiting the parade was the group's choice.
On Oct. 15, after speaking with Nur and others, the INDY emailed Short to ask again for a phone interview and connections to witnesses. He wrote back, "THIS IS THE NEUTRAL AND DIRECT WITNESS TO WHAT DID NOT HAPPEN ACCORDING TO NUR AND FRIENDS," with the phone number of R.E. Gaddy Jr., a lieutenant in the DPD.
In another email, as he continued to ignore interview requests, Short claimed it was standard procedure to warn speakers not to say anything offensive. He insisted that the Black Lives Matter group gave its full statement and indicated that his prior email was the extent of his plans to respond to what he called a "false controversy."
Asked about the man in the traffic vest and khaki pants, he responded, "There was no such volunteer in that clothing description at that location at that time that day."
Gaddy confirmed that there was a brief struggle over the microphone, but downplayed its seriousness, characterizing it as equal-force.
"I'm not sure who did what," he says. "The young lady refused to give the microphone back, and John said something to her, and the next thing you know they have it back again."
Gaddy says that Short asked him to intervene when the group refused to move on.
"We were standing right there and no one said they were assaulted," he says. "When we told them they needed to move, they elected to step out of the parade, and that was the last we saw of them."
Was it possible that the man in the traffic vest, as described by Nur and her friends, was John Short?
"Probably, yes, that might have been John, exactly," Gaddy says. "Yeah, that was probably John, because I remember he had a traffic vest on."
Nur's partner, Saba Taj, describes the man who took the microphone as white, with very light hair. He was on the shorter side, probably in his 50s, wearing a reflective vest, glasses, a baseball cap and khaki pants. Another member of the group, Tasseli McKay, provides a similar description: He was 5'7" or shorter, at least 50, a little stocky, wearing a reflective vest.
When shown pictures of Short, Taj, who was off to the side of the incident, said she was almost certain it was the same person who struggled with Nur. McKay got a much better look at him, because she tried to shield Nur with her body as he rushed toward them.
"He was angry, in our faces," she says. "He was yelling, 'Absolutely not, you can't do this, you have to move on, you're going to get fined $450.' The police were respectfully standing by until he whispered in their ears." Seeing pictures of Short, McKay says, "That's definitely him, 100 percent sure."
A photo one of the Black Lives Matter marchers took shows the man in question on the scene of the incident. He's standing at the intersection of Broad and Main, his back to the camera, face in profile. He is stocky, and much shorter than the police officer he's talking to. Light hair can be seen under his baseball cap. He wears a fluorescent yellow reflective vest. He looks a lot like John Short.
The INDY emailed Short to tell him several witnesses thought he was the person who struggled with Nur. (His prior answer to a less-informed query about the man in the traffic vest—"no such volunteer in that clothing description"—was technically true in any case, because Short is Pride's director, not a volunteer, and the picture shows a man in blue jeans, not khakis.)
"This is another complete lie ... along with so many others ... I never ever touched the microphone the entire day ... lies lies lies," he wrote back.
He did not answer or return a phone call.