UPDATE – 7/17, 6:10 p.m. EST: Cleveland police union president Stephen Loomis said Sunday that he is lobbying to have Ohio Gov. John Kasich declare a state of emergency ahead of the Republican National Convention to temporarily suspend the state’s open carry law.
Civilians have already shown up in Cleveland ahead of the week’s event armed with rifles and handguns, in compliance with Ohio law.
“I don’t care what the legal precedent is, I feel strongly that leadership needs to stand up and defend these police officers,” said Loomis.
New Black Panther Party (NBPP) chairman Hashim Nzinga told Reuters in a phone interview Tuesday that his members plan to arm themselves during a four-day rally starting Thursday in Cleveland ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention.
Nzinga said he expects “a couple hundred” New Black Panthers to turnout for the “National Convention of the Oppressed”, which will end Monday morning before the start of the four-day GOP delegate meeting, scheduled to begin later that day.
“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 us harm,” said Nzinga. “The Panthers and others who can legally bear arms will bear arms.”
Ohio is indeed an “open carry” state, and state officials have acknowledged that protesters in Cleveland will be allowed to arm themselves in public — which pro-Trump and white supremacist groups have also promised to do.
Despite the law, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, Stephen Loomis, says having thousands of armed protesters marching around the city is probably not the best way to promote a hospitable environment.
“The last thing in the world we need is anybody walking around here with AR-15s strapped to their back,” said Loomis. “I would really beg these folks, just leave your guns at home.”
While protesters armed with rifles and wearing New Black Panther attire have been spotted at police brutality rallies in Baton Rouge, LA, this week, no weaponry will be permitted in the immediate area surrounding Quicken Loans Area — site of the Convention, secured by the Secret Service.
According to the hate group watchdog, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), NBPP is “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers.”
Founded in 1989 at Dallas, the “black power” organization is perceived to be pursuing more radical tactics than its Black Panther Party predecessor, which started in the mid-1960s.
As of 2015, SPLC said there were a total of 180 black separatist groups in the U.S., out of 892 racist groups nationwide.
NBPP chairman Nzinga said his organization sports 36 individual chapters across the country, the closest branch to Cleveland residing in Dayton, OH.
[Reuters] [New York Times] [Daily Mail] [Photo courtesy Conservative Tribune]