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National Action Network Asking for Justice for SOSU Football Players

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DURANT, OK---- Today, representatives from National Action Network (NAN) were in Durant, Oklahoma to fight for justice for the five Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) football players who were suspended after pulling what they say was a prank.

Reverend Marshall Hatch and Reverend Ira Acree were the two members who came out this morning to represent the NAN.

"The National Action Network is the national organization of Reverend Al Sharpton," Rev. Hatch said. "The organization is based in New York with chapter affiliates all around the country. [It's a] social justice organization."

Hatch and Acree are from the Chicago affiliate, but made the trip to the Bryan County yesterday after one of the student's mothers, who lives in Chicago, asked for their help.

"We're here to support a group of young men that we now call the Durant five," Rev. Hatch said."These are five football players who are now unfortunately facing a felony for an April Fools' Day college prank."

According to a press release from SOSU, on April 2nd football players Matthew Leatherwood, Jercolby Bradley, Krishon Daye, Arinzechukwu "Izzy" Eziakor and Keith Craddock allegedly put on masks and went to some of their friends apartments where they staged fake robberies. The players said they were all unarmed and that meant no harm by the prank.

"These guys are absolutely remorseful for that," Rev. Hatch said. "We had prayer with them today after they received a new court date and they've been moved by this incident. They feel badly about what happened."

Since the incident, all five students have been suspended from SOSU and they lost their scholarships. Today, the Rev. Hatch and Rev. Acree told KTEN News the students had been expelled. KTEN News called the school to try and confirm their official status, but were unable to confirm whether they're still under suspension or if they have been officially expelled.

All of the players were all charged with one felony and five misdemeanors for the alleged prank.These include a felony charge for "conspiracy to engage in a pattern of criminal offenses" and misdemeanor charges for "wearing a mask, hood or covering for the purpose of coercion, int" and three counts of "assault and battery".

"To give them a felony is a death sentence for young people who have overcome so much to be here," Rev. Acree said.

This morning, both reverends said they met with the football players after a preliminary conference hearing with prosecutors this morning. They said were joined by the player's family, friends and supporters and that they're asking that Bryan County District Attorney Emily Redman drop the charges against the students or to at least reduce the charges.

"They've suffered a lot and we'd like to see them go on with their lives," Rev. Hatch said.

The student's next court date is set for October.