Wednesday, April 9, 2008



KRISTEN COULTER, RED & BLACK, GA A University student, a history professor, a reporter and an FBI agent met at Gumby's Pizza on Thursday morning. It was there that FBI agent William J.H. Filson came to confirm that junior Jim Diffly was, in fact, a student working on a class project - and not a terrorist seeking to destroy North Georgia's chicken plants.

"It was the same as the phone conversation we had," Diffly said in an interview after the meeting. The agent said he needed to "meet me face-to-face to make sure I wasn't Middle Eastern." In the meeting on Thursday, Filson explained he had to meet with Diffly to make sure he is a "Caucasian student" because of a call he received from the Hall County Sheriff's Office complaining that Diffly was taking pictures of chicken plants.

Filson said the individual who called Hall County said Diffly, who has a dark beard and long hair, may be Middle Eastern. But Diffly is white. . . The situation "feels like profiling and almost harassment," Diffly said.

This investigation began during spring break, when Diffly went to Gainesville to take pictures of poultry plants as a part of a project for a Georgia history course. . . His history professor, John Hayes, who was at the meeting with the agent, told Diffly it wouldn't be a problem. He said he thought Diffly would be able to get into the plants without a reservation. But Diffly faced strong opposition and was denied access to four plants.

After the four rejections, he proceeded to take pictures of the outside of each plant. While Diffly was taking pictures of one plant from a bridge, two Hall County police cars arrived.

Diffly said the officers told him they received a call claiming that a man who looked Middle Eastern was taking pictures of the plant. Diffly is white with a beard and dark hair.

He said he let the officers investigate his papers and ask him questions. The officers asked why he had a long beard. Diffly said he told them he grew out a beard in opposition to his very conservative grandfather.

The police officers let Diffly go but notified the FBI. . .

Reflecting on Filson's words, Diffly said, "At least I could change my appearance. But if I were Middle Eastern, what would have happened?"


Post a Comment

<< Home