A group of armed anti-mosque protesters staged a demonstration in South Dallas Saturday afternoon as predominantly white protesters and predominantly black supporters faced off against one another.
Although the protest was peaceful and no arrests were made, tensions rose as the armed counter-protesters swarmed throughout Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and gathered in the parking lot of Eva’s House of Bar-B-Q while chanting "black power."
"This is what they fear — the black man," said activist Olinka Green, according to the Dallas Morning News. "This is what America fears."
The protesters, who represented the Bureau of American Islamic Relations, arrived dressed in fatigues and masks to protest against the Nation of Islam mosque at 1 p.m. Saturday, according to CBSDFW-TV. Although Dallas police officers stood guard on a nearby funeral home’s roof to monitor the proceedings, the protest quickly dissolved without incident soon after the counter-protesters arrived in full force.
"It’s a people’s victory here in South Dallas today," said Yafeuh Balogun of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, which was named for the founder of the original Black Panther Party, according to the Dallas Morning News.
BAIR, which claims to oppose "radical Islamism," had created a Facebook event page for the protest, which it claimed was a response to the mosque for "promoting violence against Americans openly and publicly," according to the Dallas Morning News.
Counter-protester Purlie Gates said he was very upset that the protest was allowed to happen.
"These people came to our community under false pretenses. Could we do the same thing? Could we make some allegations about a group in Highland Park and arm a militia and say we are going to go over there with arms and protest?" Gates said, according to CBSDFW. "That would have been stopped at city hall. The police would have stopped that."
But the Dallas Police Department had issued a statement prior to the protest and after the event's plans were made publicly known, in which it said, "The department is committed to protecting the Constitutional rights of all citizens and will make every effort to keep this protest peaceful."
This story has been updated.
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