Wilmington, NC - Area residents and the Wilmington Police Department are concerned about an armed march planned for Sunday by The Revolutionary Black Panther Party of Wilmington. The illegal "armed human rights march and armed freedom ride" will take place Saturday and Sunday according to their Facebook page. According to Mayor Bill Saffo, the protesters will not be allowed to carry any weapons during the demonstration, per state law. The RBPP has responded and said they will carry them anyways.
The RBPP of Wilmington started in a Facebook page on December 25th and began promoting the armed march to end 'genocide,' to be hosted at Creekwood Community Center .
According to the group, they are calling for justice in the cases of men that they feel were wrongfully killed by police. "Chief Commander" Alli Muhammad said that the group holds armed marches monthly all over the country and they fully intend on holding one in Wilmington this weekend. Muhammad gives multiple reasons for the march according to a statement to WWAY3. “We have Walter Scott,” Muhammad said. “There are other people who we understand to be victims of genocide. That’s why we are in the state, but particularly dealing with Wilmington, Brandon Smith is one of those particular ones.”
Brandon Smith was wanted for shooting Detective Michael Spencer in the leg on October 10. Smith had been on the run for a few days when police spotted him. According to reports, Smith ran in to the woods and when officers found him laying on the ground, refused to show them his hands and kept pulling something from his waistband. Three officers fired as he began to point an object at them from underneath him. The object was later found to be a cellphone but the DA did not find any wrongdoing by the officers.
“There’s like silence on his case,” Muhammad said. “We march in arms in honor of life of these people who’ve lost their life."
Wilmington police have said they have no issue with the march, which does not require a permit but will require forms filed if they intend to picket. Firearms, however, are illegal at the demonstration.
G.S. 14-277.2 says:
“It shall be unlawful for any person participating in, affiliated with, or present as a spectator at any parade, funeral procession, picket line, or demonstration upon any private health care facility or upon any public place owned or under the control of the State or any of its political subdivisions to willfully or intentionally possess or have immediate access to any dangerous weapon. Violation of this subsection shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor. It shall be presumed that any rifle or gun carried on a rack in a pickup truck at a holiday parade or in a funeral procession does not violate the terms of this act.”
Now there is an exception to the law for legal concealed carry.
The Mayor made a statement about the intended march, saying, "I don't think there's a reason to come armed to an event. ... If there's an altercation with somebody, in the heat of the moment a tragedy could happen. If you want to picket or you want to demonstrate in the City of Wilmington, it's your right to do that, but you're not allowed to bring a gun."
Muhammad says he has been in contact with the police department but they still intend on marching with firearms. City County Councilman Earl Sheridan says he supports the group in expressing their First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly. "I think a lot of times when people hear that name (The Revolutionary Black Panthers), they have a knee jerk reaction, whatever it is," Sheridan said. "I don't have that knee jerk reaction. I don't think it's necessarily going to leave any problems for Wilmington."
Well Mr. Sheridan, there is great merit to having concern when you hear the party's name. The Black Panther Party has a long history of violence toward police, including targeted kidnapping and murders. The Revolutionary Black Panther Party has yet to disavow their origin, instead the founder claims there is nothing prouder than the heritage he has of being raised by original Black Panther Party members of the '60's and '70's.
This is the same Black Panther Party responsible for kidnapping, torturing and targeting whites and police officers. One notorious member Assata Shakur remains on the FBI's most wanted list. She has gained political asylum in Cuba after she escaped an American prison where she was serving life for the murder of New Jersey Trooper Werner Foerster. The founder's allegiance to the original party explains why he believes in being armed when 'policing the police.' It was the belief of the original group that it was the only way to defend against police brutality. According to their propaganda, they are Black-Nationalists that seek to "FEED, CLOTHE, SHELTER, ARM & DEFEND" their people.
“We are not people going out there being derelict,” Muhammad said. “We are not people going out there just being careless and chaotic. We are actually standing for what’s lawful.” Apparently Muhammad chooses to ignore what he has already been made aware will be an unlawful act by being armed during the demonstration.
The march does leave one to question if it's constitutional. The way that the law is written, it appears that even one man cannot legally be in possession of a folding knife if they are even just present during a parade or demonstration. The law does not cover any sort of intent to intimidate. The law would apply more specifically to malicious groups if it specified intent.
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