The Hunt for Khallid Abdul Muhammad

The Million Youth March leader breaks his silence about the violent end to his historic rally, the demands for his arrest, and life as a possible fugitive from Giuliani-style justice

Khallid adds that as cops and participants battled, he snatched a black man from members of the riot squad who were pummeling him. ''The strength was there, and I pulled him back into the ranks. For some reason, the cops just stopped. It looked like they froze. We were close enough to reach out and touch each other.'' As the liberators departed with the man, the cops charged into the crowd again. ''But the people met their charge for the second time, and in that moment security and people from the crowd came and grabbed me.''

Members of his unarmed militia guard had come back to rescue Khallid, but he wanted to stay and try to resolve the conflict. ''No, Khallid!'' one Black Panther shouted as he and others tried to reason with their incensed leader.

''I can't let them hurt our people!'' Khallid cried. ''We gotta stop them from hurtin' our people!''

''We gotta get you outta here!'' insisted Harlem fitness guru Herman Smalls, who was guarding Khallid that day.

''We can't lose you, Khallid!'' declared Quannel X, his minister of information.

No one could restrain the buck-wild Khallid, whom Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan once compared to an untamed black stallion. As the disturbance heightened around them, the men wrestled Khallid to the ground. ''They were all over my back, my arms,'' Khallid remembers. ''I was thinking, 'How can I get away from them?' I got on my knees and with all of my strength I threw my arms, my entire body, upward and broke loose.''

Khallid jumped back into the fray. But his equally determined bodyguards collared him again and dragged him away. ''We see everything flying over our heads, people fighting the police,'' he recalls. ''I didn't see nobody back up or run from them. The people stood their ground and fought them.''

Khallid was passed from hand to hand. They got him as far as 119th Street where the frustrated revolutionary argued bitterly with his security. ''There, I continued to fight and wrestle with them, and they were just muscling me and telling me, 'You gotta get outta here!' and 'We can't let you go back!' ''

Khallid broke loose again and leaped on top of a car. Someone pressed a bullhorn in his hand, and he began to call on the police to open up the side streets to allow the crowd to disperse peacefully.

The disturbance had not spread beyond the staging area, but Khallid felt that the cops were bottling in those who wished to leave. He kept his eyes on the cops who manned the barricades.

''You're gonna create an incident!'' he warned. ''Don't keep them penned in!''

He claims that ''with the force of the people'' behind him, the cops were compelled to remove the barricades.

Khallid and his band walked toward 125th Street, urging the crowd to stay calm. ''They were angry and pained over what was happening, and I didn't want anyone to do anything that would harm Harlem. But it didn't look like anybody even had rioting on their mind.''

Khallid now had a new following, one that pleaded with him to stick around and fire them up. ''They kept telling me they wasn't gon' leave. ''His security escorted him to 128th Street where they commandeered a van and shoved Khallid inside. ''The people wouldn't let the van move,'' he says. ''They kept beating on the van and hollering, 'We love you, Khallid!' It was like they were going to break the windows. Then I had to get back out and tell them, 'Please, don't break the brother's window. Let him get me outta here so that everybody can go home.' Finally, they opened up a little, and the brother was able to ease out of the crowd.''

As the van sped uptown, two NYPD helicopters appeared to give chase. The choppers followed the van for about 12 blocks, then turned back. It was the last anyone saw of Khallid.

It seemed as if Congressman Charles Rangel's prediction, ''When it's over, no one would know where to find Khallid Muhammad,'' would come true.

Reporters combed the city for the firebrand orator, who New York Times writer Dan Barry quipped had ''vanished in a puff of anti-Semitic exhaust.''

On September 8, theDaily Newsreported that he had turned up in Atlanta at the rival Million Youth Movement rally, backed by Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, and the NAACP. ''Smiling and raising both fists, Muhammad left quickly without speaking,'' according to writers Barbara Ross, Greg Smith, and Maureen Fan. ''His lieutenant, Malik Shabazz, then led the crowd of 4,000 in a raucous chant, 'The hell with Giuliani!' '' the story added.

But the Daily News article was inaccurate. At the time the tabloid placed Khallid in Atlanta, he was meeting with aVoicereporter in New York. And Malik was in Washington. Khallid bristles, ''It just shows you how the devil can lie!''

So much has happened in the past 10 months that Khallid has had little or no time to reflect on the people who have crossed his path, or as he put it, ''changed his-story.'' Some, like Norman Siegel, the Jewish head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, left an indelible impression on the accused anti-Semite. Siegel had intervened in the permit impasse as a ''friend of the court,'' and argued that the Giuliani administration's attempt to scuttle the rally flew in the face of constitutional guarantees.

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