- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The chairman of the New Black Panther Party has announced plans for an armed protest at the Republican convention next week in Cleveland, according to Reuters.

“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,” Hashim Nzinga told Reuters in an interview published Tuesday.

“If that state allows us to bear arms, the Panthers and the others who can legally bear arms will bear arms,” he added.

Officials in Ohio have said it will be legal for armed demonstrators to gather outside the convention at the Quicken Loans Arena under the state’s “open carry” laws, Reuters reported.

The group’s announcement came just five days after lone gunman Micah Xavier Johnson killed five police officers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas. The People’s New Black Panther Party, a black nationalist group, said Johnson had attended several of their meetings in Dallas.

Mr. Nzinga condemned the cop killings as a “massacre” and said his group played no role in the attack, Reuters reported.

Several other groups, including some supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have planned armed demonstrations as well, leading to concerns about rival groups carrying weapons in close proximity to one another, Reuters reported.

“Obviously, everybody is on edge after Dallas,” Brian Kazy, a member of the Cleveland City Council and its Safety Committee, told The New York Times. “If you had some mass confusion, even if you had a civilian who was carrying who would attempt to help out, I think the mentality of any law enforcement officer would see an individual with a gun, would see an individual possibly shoot and would react to that.”

Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said he strongly supports the right to bear arms but is urging demonstrators at the convention to leave their firearms at home.

“The last thing in the world we need is anybody walking around here with AR-15s strapped to their back,” he told The Times. “And the absolute tragedy in Dallas is proof positive that we just cannot allow that to happen. I would really just beg these folks, just leave your guns at home. Come, say whatever it is that you want to say, make whatever point it is that you want to make, but it’s going to be very, very difficult to deal with the RNC as it is.”


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