The Minister Louis Farrakhan, 79, delivered his annual Saviors’ Day sermon on Sunday. As is usually the case, the three-hour address covered a variety of topics ranging from current events to the faith leader’s contentious views on race relations. Of particular note was an economic plan he posited — one in which African Americans would come together to invest in land — and a pledge to reach out to gang leaders to ask them for assistance in protecting the Nation of Islam’s interests.

The Saviors’ Day address is generally a mixture of sermon and lecture. The event commemorates the founding of the Nation of Islam, which has espoused black nationalism and self-reliance since the 1930s. When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the resounding tone of the convention was jubilant, but Obama’s re-election took a back seat Sunday as Farrakhan said blacks still had to rely on themselves, and not leaders, to improve their situation. 

Farrakhan Wants to Recruit Gang Members to Protect Land Purchased by Nation of Islam

Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks during the Saviours’ Day annual convention at the U.I.C. Pavilion in Chicago, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Credit: AP 

“Even though one of our own has reached the highest pinnacle of the American political system, his presence has not, cannot and will not solve our problems,” Farrakhan told the crowd of men wearing navy uniforms and women dressed in white shirt suits and matching hijabs.

With 10,000 people in attendance and with a video stream of the event airing online, the reach was relatively large.

Farrakhan touched briefly on issues like Israel, Obama’s cabinet and healthier food consumption — but mostly reiterated teachings from the Chicago-based movement on a plan for blacks’ economic recovery and said the biggest priority should be the purchase of land.

For those who don’t already know, the Nation of Islam has more than 1,500 acres of farmland in Georgia. Ishmael Muhammad, the religion’s national assistant minister, told The Associated Press that the group is looking to buy thousands more acres in the Midwest.

Farrakhan Wants to Recruit Gang Members to Protect Land Purchased by Nation of Islam

Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks during the Saviours’ Day annual convention at the U.I.C. Pavilion in Chicago, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Credit: AP 

But the more intriguing portion of the speech focused upon gangs and efforts to seek leaders and members of these groups out for the sole purposes of protecting the Nation of Islam. Here’s how DNAInfo.com describes Farrakhan’s framing of the proposal:

Instead, Farrakhan had a different idea for how to address gun violence. In addition to sending letters to black military leaders, Farrakhan said he planned to contact the city’s gang leaders to recruit gang members to “protect” any land the Nation of Islam may buy in the future.

“All you gang bangers, we know you love to shoot, but you’re killing yourselves,” Farrakhan said.

Rather than killing one another, Farrakhan spoke directly to gang leaders, telling them, “We want to make you a defender of the territories that your nickels, dimes and dollars and hours will buy.” He continued, explaining that gang bangers have much to teach the National of Islam about self-defense, while simultaneously condemning them for needless violence.

Farrakhan Wants to Recruit Gang Members to Protect Land Purchased by Nation of Islam

Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks during the Saviours’ Day annual convention at the U.I.C. Pavilion in Chicago, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Credit: AP 

“You are the natural warriors to defend and the science of war must be taught to us so that we will protect whatever God allows us to buy or to build,” he said. “The Second Amendment has no relevance to the black community in this sense — you don’t have legal weapons. All your weapons are illegal and you’re using them like a savage people would use them.”

Farrakhan also said that he respects the Second Amendment and noted its prevalence in once helping the new American government keep from slipping back into tyranny.  His tone was more tempered than the one he used to speak about guns in a separate speech recently.

Watch the faith leader advocate using gangs to protect the Nation of Islam, below:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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