Around 40 New Black Panther Party members took to the streets of Austin, Texas to condemn recent killings of black civilians. Armed with high caliber weapons, they said they aimed to patrol their own communities and encourage the taking up of arms.
The protest in the state capital of Texas on Monday coincided with the SXSW (South by Southwest) festival, which celebrates music and film. However the heavily-armed New Black Panther members, who were carrying Kalashnikov rifles and AR-15’s caught the attention of many, as they chanted songs in their display of force.
Showing off their weapons was not the main reason for them marching along the streets. The movement was protesting the deaths of a number of unarmed black people, such as teenager Michael Brown and Eric Garner, whom they believe were the results of police brutality.
The deaths of Brown and Garner caused mass protests across the US, while the fact that no police officer was charged in either instance has only increased the feeling amongst the black community that they are being victimized.
Now Darren X says he wants black people to start feeling safe again when they walk along America’s streets.
“Our initiative is for black men and women to start arming themselves and for us to start patrolling our own communities. That way we have a visual, we have an eye on what is going on in our neighborhoods. So our mission is to arm every black man that can legally be armed throughout the Unites States of America,” he said.
Another member of the New Black Panther Party, Erick Khafre says the group is not looking to be violent and there only interest is to try and protect their rights.
“We’re interested in educating people about their rights and defending their community,” Khafre said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “We stand in solidarity with all people who are marching and who are patrolling against police terrorism in national and international communities,” he added.
The New Black Panther Party is a black political organization that is not an official successor of the socialist Black Panther Party that was active in the 60-early 80s.
In November, two New Black Panther Party members were charged in Ferguson by police on suspicion they were going to set off pipe bombs in the area. Brandon Orlando Baldwin and Olajuwon Davis were also indicted on charges of buying two pistols from a firearms dealer under false pretenses.