Members of the New Black Panther Party march in front of the Baton Rouge police department at the weekend. Photo / AP
The New Black Panther Party announced today that it planned to carry
guns at next week’s United States Republican Party convention.
a a sign of the racial tension that is roiling the US, as President
Barack Obama spoke in Dallas to pay tribute to five white policemen
killed by a black gunman.
The party (NBPP) has surged to the
forefront of America’s consciousness after police killed two black men,
and the retaliatory murder of five white policemen in the space of three
days last week.
Formed in Dallas, Texas, in 1989, it is not an
official successor to the Black Panther Party of the 1960s, but embraces
the same ideology.
On Sunday (NZT) gun-wielding NBPP members
paraded through the streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana to protest against
the killing of Alton Sterling, shot after an altercation outside a
A reporter for Baton Rouge’s The Advocate, Bryn Stole, captured the protest march and the police response on video and posted it on Twitter.
Here’s the moment a bit ago the touched things off. When Black Panthers marched, riot police came out to meet them. pic.twitter.com/knilyRXPLT
— Bryn Stole (@BrynStole) July 9, 2016
it is an open State to carry, we will exercise our Second Amendment
rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are
threatening to do harm to us,” said Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New
Black Panther Party.
“If that state allows us to bear arms, the Panthers and the others who can legally bear arms will bear arms.”
Ohio, which is hosting the Republican National Convention (RNC), permits the open carrying of weapons.
Nzinga said he expected several hundred NBPP members to attend the convention, in Cleveland.
group, Oath Keepers, comprised of current and former members of the
military have shown up at other tense events heavily armed, and also say
they plan to carry weapons into Cleveland.
have said there will be increased security during the Republican
gathering, with resources from city, state and federal authorities.
the convention area, the US Secret Service will set up a smaller
perimeter near the conference centre, which will have stricter security
and prohibit guns.
Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told theNew York Times
he strongly supported citizens’ rights to bear arms, but urged people
not to take their guns near Cleveland’s downtown area during the
The last thing in the world we need is anybody walking around here with AR-15s strapped to their back.
“And the absolute tragedy in Dallas is proof positive that we just cannot allow that to happen,” he said.
would really just beg these folks, just leave your guns at home. Come,
say whatever it is that you want to say, make whatever point it is that
you want to make, but it’s going to be very, very difficult to deal with
the RNC as it is.
Pucillo, the vice president of Ohio Carry, a gun-rights group based in
Kent, Ohio, said he understood Loomis’ concerns, but stressed that
people could not be legally prevented from carrying their guns downtown.
Louisiana, like Ohio, permits “open carry”.
In Baton Rouge at the weekend, a member of the NBPP with a rifle slung over his shoulder was confronted by a police officer.
NBPP member insisted he had the right to carry his weapon. The officer
replied that that was true – but he did not have the right to walk down
the middle of the road and block the highway.
And in this
feverish atmosphere, Obama walked a tightrope between supporting police
and sympathising with black protesters as he flew into Dallas in an
attempt to heal a divided nation.
US President Barack Obama and former
president George W Bush shake hands as first lady Michelle Obama, and
Laura Bush (left) stand by at the Dallas memorial service. Photo / AP
It was the 11th time during his presidency that Obama has taken on the role of “Consoler-in-chief” after a mass shooting.
this occasion Micah Johnson, 25, a black power activist and former
soldier, murdered five police officers and injured nine more when he
opened fire on Friday (NZT).
The president declared it a “hate
crime” comparable to the killing of nine black people in a church by
white supremacist Dylann Roof last year.
Johnson was motivated by
the recent fatal police shootings of two black men by police in
Louisiana and Minnesota, which sparked days of nationwide protests and
America’s biggest debate over race since the 1960s.
spoke at a private memorial service for the officers alongside former
president George W. Bush, who lives in Dallas. He was also due to meet
privately with the officers’ families and give “some measure of
comfort”, the White House said.
Some police officials have accused Obama of fuelling division by being insufficiently supportive of them.
Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police
Organisations, said there was a “war on cops” and Obama was the “Neville
Chamberlain of this war”. Obama met for two hours with senior police
officials, including Johnson, in Washington before heading to Dallas.
President told them he was open to allowing police forces to buy more
military surplus equipment from the Pentagon like armoured vehicles and
grenade launchers. He also vowed to act as an intermediary between
police and protesters, saying: “I’m your best hope.”
Dallas Police chief David Brown sounded exasperated as he urged politicians in Washington to make progress on gun control.
said: “Both sides are entrenched in their positions. Do your job. We’re
doing ours. We’re putting our lives on the line. The other aspects of
government need to step up and help us.”
Brown, who has emerged from the tragedy as a nationally respected figure, also urged protesters to become police officers.
said: “Become part of the solution. Serve your communities. We’re
hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in.
“We’ll put you in your neighbourhood and help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about.”
said the Dallas police force would not handle security for Obama’s
visit because it was “fatigued” and he “didn’t want something to go
wrong”. A neighbouring force from Arlington, Texas was drafted in
Many people in Texas, a strongly Republican state, were unreceptive to Obama’s visit.
a gun show near Dallas weapons seller Jim Chase said: “The police are
over-stretched as it is dealing with funerals and overtime. Tensions are