Black Open Carry: The Armed African-Americans Patrolling Dallas

In Dallas, a group of black activists is protesting police violence in a particularly Texan way: by invoking their right to open carry.

By Brenda SalinasJanuary 9, 2015 12:25 pm|

Aaron Lake Smith has reported on this group for Vice News, which calls itself the Huey P. Newton Gun Club.

Highlights from the interview:

On the relationship between the New Black Panthers and The Huey P. Newton Gun Club:

“What you have is actually a coalition of different groups that came together, you have the New Black Panthers, they kind of worked with another group called Guerilla Main Frame another group called Black Militia Nation and the African Angels to form the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, which is just a coalition of what you might call para-military organizations in Dallas area. They’re basically using the weapons and the armed patrols as a way to say ‘We’ve had enough, we gotta protect ourselves.’ It’s a self-defense posture, it’s not an aggressive posture, but it’s a way of saying ‘This is the only way we can kind of avoid getting shot.'”

On what the group is trying to achieve:

“I think the message is for the neighborhoods that have issues with the police. There’s a lot of fear – one woman told me she didn’t want to call the police when there was a problem because she didn’t know how it would end up. And there’s kind of this preconception, borne out from experience, that when you call the police bad things can happen, someone could get shot, it could turn bad. So there’s not a lot of trust between the police and these neighborhoods.”

On how the Dallas Police Department has reacted:

“Dallas police chief David Brown has tried to build this trust. So [did] the D.A. Craig Watkins [who was ousted by Susan Hawks in the November election]. They’ve been trying to make some reforms. But it is kind of a way to restore confidence and put out a sense of ‘we can protect ourselves, this is our neighborhoods, we don’t need the police, we don’t trust the police.’ and this is ‘we can defend out own neighborhood from drug dealers we can kind of have our own police as a way to not have to deal with the police where when they come things might turn sour.'”

On the symbolism of a black man with a gun:

“I think the gun for them is a symbol just like with the Black Panthers the gun was a symbol – it’s a way of saying ‘we’re not going to take it anymore.’ It’s a posture of self defense. It’s a way to get attention to issues that otherwise would be ignored and have been ignored. I also think there is the desire behind the project to police themselves, to no longer have to rely on the Dallas police. I wouldn’t call them vigilantes. But I think it’s a way of telling the community ‘we can do this ourselves, we don’t need to rely on the city.'”

How Texas Open Carry factors in:

“Texas Open Carry have made a number of overtures to the black community basically saying ‘Take up weapons, we urge you to, we want to come into your communities and teach you about gun rights.” This was particularly an issue in Houston which kind of exploded when the New Black Panthers bit back in Houston and  ‘we don’t need you to come into Fifth Ward  and teaching us how to use weapons, we know how to use weapons, guns are a part of daily life in the black community and we can organize ourselves and we can teach ourselves how to be armed, we don’t need someone to come in an teach us how to defend ourselves.'”

The Huey P. Newton Gun Club is a group of black activists asserting their right to open carry.