The Revolutionary Black Panther Party will be holding an armed march Sunday (Jan. 29) in Wilmington, North Carolina. A flyer for the march uploaded to the Revolutionary Black Panther Party of Wilmington’s Facebook page said the march would be an “anti-genocide march for Black-Africans murdered by police in America.”
While organizers said the event would be peaceful, local authorities expressed concern. It is illegal in North Carolina to carry a weapon while participating in a parade, funeral possession, picket line or demonstration.
The national head of the Revolutionary Black Panther Party, Alli Muhammad, said the group believed it had filed all necessary paperwork with the city. He said the group wasn’t parading, picketing or spectating, and that the law against armed demonstrations didn’t apply to this weekend’s event. He called the event a “First Amendment special event,” the Charlotte News Observer reported.
somebody, in the heat of the moment a tragedy could happen,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo told the Wilmington Star News. “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 insisted the rally would be peaceful. The party held an armed march in Milwaukee in December without incident.
“We are strictly against violent crime, terrorism, genocide,” Muhammad told a local CBS affiliate. “That’s what we stand on. We don’t believe in terrorism or violence at all… We’re there to protect all human beings and all humanity and all people regardless of race, color or creed. We do stand up for human rights.”
On the Revolutionary Black Panther Party (RBPP) of Wilmington Facebook page they also posted “we are not a hate group, a terrorist group, or any of those things you are ready to associate us with. The RBPP mission statement is to Feed, Clothe, Shelter, Train and Defend the Black people of Afrikan descent. Now, the KKK is/was a hate group. You should go to their page or website and start there.”
The group’s flyer for the event specifically mentions three men killed by police in North Carolina and South Carolina in recent years: Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot and killed by Charlotte police last year; Walter Scott, who in 2015 was killed by a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer who was later charged with murder in the shooting; and Brandon Smith, who was shot and killed in October in Wrightsboro, North Carolina after fleeing from police.
The Revolutionary Black Panther Party is a separate organization from the New Black Panther Party. The latter organization has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The march will begin at the Creekwood Community Center located at 714 Emory Street in Wilmington, NC.