The New Black Panther party has confirmed that it will be staging an armed protest in Cleveland Ohio prior to the 4-day Republican National Convention that starts next Monday.
“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,” said party chairman Hashim Nzinga.
Many Trump supporters are also planning to come armed to the event.
Panthers have been spotted carrying weapons at recent protests centered on the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Louisiana. Nzinga confirmed that his group played no role in what he calls the Dallas “massacre” and reiterated that the Panthers will only be armed if Ohio laws allow.
Ohio’s open carry laws allow citizens to carry guns without a license, but officials are nervous about the potential violence that could break out between armed, politically opposed groups. Nzinga expects “a couple hundred” Panthers to attend a black unity protest in Cleveland this Thursday. He stated that his group plans to leave Cleveland the day before the convention begins.
“We are there to protect (the black unity) event. We are not trying to do anything else,” he says. “We are going to carry out some of these great legal rights we have – to assemble, to protest, and to exercise freedom of speech.”
The Panthers and other black power groups argue for defense against racial oppression, with some groups seeking the formation of all-black social institutions. The New Black Panther Party was founded in 1990 and has long promoted black separatist ideology. They have been slammed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against white, Jews, and law enforcement officers.”