Despite Reports, New Black Panther Party Will Not March At The RNC Armed — Even Though They Should
According to Reuters, the New Black Panther Party, the Black power and separatist group not affiliated with (and denounced by) the Black Panther Party of the ’60s, is planning on protesting the Republican National Convention this weekend in Cleveland, Ohio. They reportedly plan to do so armed.
The plan by the group this weekend comes as police in Cleveland brace for an influx of groups that plan demonstrations before and during the presidential nominating convention.
During the attack last week in Dallas that killed five police officers, law enforcement officials said demonstrators carrying rifles led them to initially believe they were under attack by multiple shooters.
Several other groups, including some supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have said they will carry weapons in Cleveland.
“If 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,” Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“If that state allows us to bear arms, the Panthers and the others who can legally bear arms will bear arms.”
Nzinga said he condemned the Dallas shootings.
Officials in Ohio have said it will be legal for protesters to carry weapons at demonstrations outside the convention under that state’s “open carry” law, which allows civilians to carry guns in public.
According to the article, Nzinga said that it expects around 200 of its members to be at the convention. Several other non-Black power groups more closely aligned with the RNC’s politics also plan to participate in the open-carry march.
But, of course, Nzinga is now claiming that he never said all of that. As he said to Yahoo News:
“The New Black Panther Party is not instructing anyone in any way, shape, form, or fashion, to bring weapons to Cleveland,” Hashim Nzinga said in the statement. “Any person (outside of NBPP) who exercises that ‘right’, only does so as a personal choice, not by the instructions of the NBPP National Chairman, any of our National staff, or membership.”
Reached by phone on Wednesday evening, Nzinga said a Reuters story published on Tuesday misrepresented his statements. “The truth and honesty don’t sell,” he said.
Yahoo News would go on to mention that the interview between Nzinga and Reuters was recorded. However, Reuters has yet to respond to the accusations.
I say, who knows the truth? Mainstream media outlets in particular have been known to misrepresent and flat-out fabricate things about Black people all of the time. And you have to wonder about the relevancy of a story about this particular group’s interest in open carry at the RNC when several other groups affiliated with the right will be doing the exact same thing.
Oh, how silly of me: it’s because they’re Black.
And we all know that Black people dressed in all Black and carrying a big black gun is a pretty scary thought for many who will be attending the Republican National Convention (i.e., White people).
Not to mention, it has already been a tough week for Black Power groups throughout the country who have been working overtime to disassociate themselves from violence, particularly the actions of 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson, who shot and killed five Dallas police officers and injured nine others. And it was two members of the New Black Panther Party who found themselves the target of a right-wing conspiracy involving voter intimidation.
As such, I can certainly see how Nzinga would be peeved about allegedly being misrepresented in an interview. Still, I am kind of disappointed that the group didn’t put the call out to its members to come to the protest armed. Yeah, I know the summer of ’16 has been pretty turbulent. And yeah, I know a Black power group bringing guns to an RNC convention is akin to walking butt-naked into a hornet’s nest.
But as unnecessarily dangerous as that bit of agitation seems, someone really should be there to make a statement about the right wing’s lack of response to the death of two Black men, shot and killed by police for carrying guns in states with lenient open-carry gun laws.
The protection of the Second Amendment is literally the right’s bread and butter. In fact, one of the reasons we can’t have sensible gun laws in this country is because it is often the Republicans and far right who obstruct such measures from passing in Congress. In the past, they have said that their obstruction was based on a matter of freedom: that gun control does nothing but deny people a right afforded to them under the U.S. Constitution. And what better way to illustrate how gun control really doesn’t work in this country than by championing the cases of Tamir Rice, John Crawford II and now Philando Castile, who all were tragically gunned down by police for carrying weapons (or what appeared to be a weapon) in open-carry states? It would be a connection that not only strengthens their cause, but also helps to resonate with sympathizers from the other side of the political aisle – more specifically, Black people.
Not to mention the recruiting opportunities. Republicans for years have told people (the lie) that they are working on attracting more Black voters. Well, here is the chance.
And yet, the National Rifle Association (NRA), Sarah Palin, Clint Eastwood and many other pro-gun politicians and public figures have suddenly gone mute in their rabid defense of our constitutional right. If anything, it proves that guns rights are only for White people in this country. It also proves the precarious position Black folks find themselves in when it comes to the gun debate. Specifically, the right kills us because they fear we have a gun. And then there is the left, which kills us through strict gun laws that do more to aid in our mass incarceration than they do to actually get guns off of the streets.
So yeah, what a total shame it is that the New Black Panther Party won’t be officially marching at the RNC (and the DNC) with guns. It would have been great to finally have an organization call out the rampant hypocrisy in this issue.
Charing Ball is a writer, cultural critic, free-thinker, slick-mouth feminist and queen of unpopular opinions from Philadelphia. To learn more, visit NineteenSeventy-Seven.com.