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Nation of Islam members exonerated in beatings

Five Nation of Islam members were cleared Tuesday in the beating of four boys who said mall security guards forced them to run naked through a gantlet after detaining them for stealing.

A Dallas County grand jury declined to indict a Nation minister and four Westcliff Mall security guards, all Nation members, on kidnapping charges. All have been free on bond.

The guards told police the boys admitted breaking into the mall and stealing $300 and a cash register from an antiques store June 11.

The youngsters said guards rounded them up the next day, beat them, ordered them to undress and beat them again before taking them to a room in the mall where Nation members had gathered for a class.

In the room, the boys said, they were forced to run naked through a gantlet of about 50 Nation members and were beaten with belts and bamboo canes.

None of the men was charged in the beatings.

The three brothers, ages 16, 13 and 12, and a 13-year-old friend, have been charged with burglary.

Lori Shirley, the mother of three of the boys, said she was angry about the grand jury's decision.

"They're never going to get over it," she said of her sons. "I'm not going to get over it. It scarred me for life, too."

The mall's owner, Dr. Gaoloku Lagbara, and Susie Garrett, owner of Susie's Collectible, said they would ask prosecutors and grand jurors to drop the burglary charges against the boys and not pursue any legal action against their parents.

Calls had been pouring in to radio talk-shows in support of the guards, and several rallies have been held in their favor.