Only so many unarmed black men can be shot down by police across the country before the spirit of the original Black Panthers would arise.
Two dozen armed men and women from a gun club named after the co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense peacefully marched through parts of South Dallas on Wednesday.
The open-carry march and rally was organized by the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, named after the man who co-founded the Black Panthers in 1966, to promote self-defense against police brutality and community policing in response to recent police shootings, particularly in South Dallas, but also across the country.
With Dallas police present at a distance, the black-clad demonstrators with rifles slung over their shoulders, marched down Martin Luther King and Malcolm X boulevards “justice for Michael Brown,” the black teenager fatally shot by police this month in Ferguson, Mo, a suburb of St. Louis. Brown’s shooting death sparked nationwide outrage and coast-to-coast rallies and marches, particularly contentious ones in Ferguson, the epicenter of the latest police shooting of another unarmed black male.
It became so volatile that the Missouri Gov. called in the National Guard to restore order and canceled school classes for several days.
Back in Dallas, the organizer of the armed rally — ironically named Huey Freeman — said the purpose of the march and demonstration was to illuminate the numerous police shootings of black men in their own city.
“We think that all black people have the right to self-defense and self-determination,” said Huey Freeman, a march organizer, according to the Dallas Morning News. “We believe that we can police ourselves and bring security to our own communities.”
Freeman plans to teach the communities in South Dallas about economic collectivism and self defense.
Established about three months ago, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club calls for an end to shootings by police of unarmed individuals — particularly blacks. It also asks people to consider carrying weapons “to protect themselves,” according to a news release.
“We need to arm ourselves, not to attack anybody, but in self-defense,” said Darrin X, a representative of the New Black Panther Party. “We can’t let people just come into our community, whether they are law enforcement or not, and just gun our people down and there is no accountability.”
Dallas police officers appeared to follow the demonstrators in unmarked police cars. Toward the beginning of the 90-minute demonstration, a couple of police cars temporarily blocked off MLK Boulevard so the protesters could safely cross the street.
Christina Smith, acting commander of the Police Department’s strategic deployment bureau, said the “low profile” police presence was not unusual.
“It is standard protocol for non-uniformed officers to be present at all scheduled protests/rallys in order to protect the rights of the demonstrators as well as other citizens,” Smith wrote in an email.
“I would rather them not be here because there are many issues going on here with regards to police brutality,” said Charles Goodson, a spokesman for the Huey P. Newton Gun Club. “But, at the same time, if it helps the community by seeing the police here or makes people more comfortable, then that’s fine.”
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