The national chairman of the New Black Panther Party told Reuters Tuesday the group will carry firearms during its Republican National Convention protests next week if state law allows it.
BREAKING: New Black Panther Party will carry arms during protests at U.S. Republican National Convention if legal - group chairman— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 12, 2016
Hashim Nzinga said the purpose of carrying firearms would be for self-defense.
Hashim Nzinga, front left, chairman of the New Black Panther party, marches with others down Calhoun Street in Charleston, S.C., to the front of Emanuel AME Church, Tuesday, June 23, 2015. The march came six days after a gunman shot nine people during bible study inside the church. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
"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," Nzinga told Reuters. "If that state allows us to bear arms, the Panthers and the others who can legally bear arms will bear arms."
Ohio officials confirmed it's legal for protesters to carry weapons during demonstrations outside the convention center under the state’s open carry laws. Reuters reported that members of several other groups, including some supporters of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, also have said they plan to carry weapons, sparking concerns about armed rival groups in close proximity to one another.
Nzinga said Tuesday he expects “a couple hundred” members of the New Black Panther Party to participate in a black unity protest scheduled for Thursday in Cleveland.
In addition, Nzinga has not been quiet about the killing of five police officers in Dallas last week. According to Reuters, he condemned the act as a “massacre.”
On his personal Twitter page, he emphasized that his group played no role in Thursday's attack. Nzinga said the black shooter, Micah Johnson, was "trained" by "white America."