Around 40 New Black Panther Party members marched with their firearms on display through the streets of Austin during SXSW festival on Monday.
We have reported on the “Open Carry” protests by the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, taking place in Texas recently in response to increasing incidences of police brutality. The Huey P. Newton Gun Club don’t claim to be Black Panthers like their namesake, but another group – the New Black Panther Party – does make use of the name.
Some news outlets like RT have commented on the HPNGC open carry protests, conflating the two groups, perhaps unintentionally. For their part, the HPNGC explains that they are “not The New Black Panther Party, although we have members who are a part of that organization in addition to Guerrilla Mainframe, African Angels, NBLM and other groups focused on empowering people, specifically the Black community.”
The New Black Panthers are inspired by the historical organization founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, but they were founded over a decade after the Black Panther Party For Self Defense became officially defunct. Still, they are inspired by their mission and message and say they are carrying on under the same name.
While distinct from the Huey Newton Gun Club, there does seem to be some crossover. But the 40 HPNGB members who recently took to the streets of Austin and in similar Open Carry protests against police brutality, are a distinct organization.
Still, RT seemed to focus in on this, and try to implicate the HPNGC with allegations against the New Black Panther Party. “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.”
To our knowledge, these suspects have not been convicted. That they were charged in Ferguson during protests hardly seems to be convincing evidence of their guilt.
So what does all this have to do with the HPNGC? You’ll have to ask RT. Some might consider this character assassination of the Texas-based group.
In any event, most protesters at the march could be seen marching peacefully with assault weapons, and all agreed that the aim is common with those of the original Panther Party, to patrol their own communities, rather than relying on discriminatory police departments to do so at the expense of taxes taken from low income members of the community.
The protest was apparently intended to coincide with the SXSW (South by Southwest) festival – a largely white-attended celebration of music and film. The purpose was not to intimidate Caucasian festival-goers, but instead to make use of the high profile event to gain media attention for their march.
In spite of this, very few media outlets have batted an eye, content instead to present open carry marches as a racially-polarized phenomenon, engaged in only by the most right wing elements of White America. As we have seen with Action For John Crawford protests in Beavercreek, Ohio, as well as marches like this, those in Detroit and the repeated protests by the Huey Newton Gun Club, this is far from the case. But the mainstream, corporate media knows that they can define reality for the unformed who do not watch the news with a critical eye.
For the HPNGC’s part, they explain that the march was a protest against the deaths of such victims of police brutality like Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
“We are here to show support for the families and the victims who got murdered throughout the United States,” protester Darren X, said.
“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 added.