Heavily armed white supremacists, carrying the confederate flag that symbolizes slavery in the U.S. and banners that read “White Lives Matter,” took over the yard in front of the NAACP headquarters in Houston, Texas Sunday.
The armed protest, staged by about 20 men and women carrying assault rifles, was against Black leaders like the NAACP, who refuse to condemn the Black Lives Matter movement. The racists have made the unsubstantiated claim that Black organizations were to blame for riots and killings in the country, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The leader of the armed group, Ken Reed, told the Chronicle, “We’re not out here to instigate or start any problems. Obviously we’re exercising our Second Amendment rights but that’s because we have to defend ourselves. Their organizations and their people are shooting people based on the color of their skin. We’re not. We definitely will defend ourselves, but we’re not out here to start any problems.”
When asked about the flying of the confederate flag, Reed added, “It has nothing to do with racism on our part. We’re proud to be Southern. It has all to do about heritage, nothing to do with hate.”
Reed made the statements despite the fact that the racist occupation took place in front of the historic Black organization, founded in 1909. The NAACP was formed in reaction to racist mob violence and the rise of white supremacist groups like the Klu Klux Klan at a time when lynchings and armed mob killings were commonplace in the U.S.
Quintina Richardson, who lives near the NAACP office, told the Chronicle, “You’re saying Black Lives Matter is a racist organization but when you’re throwing the Confederate flag up and saying White Lives Matter, are you saying you’re racist?”
Neighborhood residents came out to protest the group and to detail recent police harassment in the Third Ward block.
The white supremacist were told to clear the premises by the police at around 3:30 local time, leaving residents angry that they had shown up at all in the heart of the African American community in Houston.