The woman in the passing car shouted, "Black power!" And the gun-rights advocates lined up on the sidewalk outside Forest Avenue Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard returned the call. In the heat of a Wednesday afternoon, about 30 black men and a few women, dressed head-to-toe in black, stood with long guns slung around their shoulders. They marched to protest police brutality in general and to encourage gun ownership.
A few groups were represented in the ranks of the marchers, said Charles Goodson, an organizer of the march and head of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, which wants people to know they have the right to own guns. Many marchers had Black Panther patches on their black fatigues. Marcher Priest DeBrazier said the Panthers were there in response to the slaying of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, but Goodson said the march had been planned before Brown's death August 9.
Either way, several people in the neighborhood joined the march, whether it was to protest police brutality, the situation in Ferguson or just poor race relations in general.
(In the video above, the marchers are in the parking lot of Elaine's Kitchen, a brief stop before they headed down Malcolm X to their final destination, a car wash several blocks away.)
"I'm proud to say I've seen Black Panthers in person," said Ricky Pinkard, who works at a barbershop on MLK. Although he didn't march, he said he considered their presence a positive thing. To bring about a change in how police treat black people, "we got to come together for something that's right," he said.
"They're demonstrating their free rights as citizens," Glenn Bragg said of the marchers. He wanted to know why there were several squad cars and at least one unmarked black SUV with blinking blue-and-red lights at a peaceful protest.
One onlooker, who wished to go unnamed, said he's glad to see people marching for a right he believes many blacks don't realize they have. Many people carry guns illegally, he said, when they could do it legally.
"We want people to know that we have the right to bear arms," said DeBrazier, who described himself as a member of the original Black Panther Party who has lived in Dallas for many years. "We want them to know that they have the right to bear arms because a lot of them don't know.
"This is a teaching moment," DeBrazier said. "I believe that every black person should have a pistol under their pillow and a shotgun behind the door because the way things are going today, you just don't know. You got wrongful death by the police. People kicking in the wrong doors. It's really open season on minorities, black people in particular. Dead men tell no tales. If I'm a police officer and I stop you, it's my word against yours, but if I kill you, it's just my word."
Anthony Zulu, who said he was a member of the original Black Panthers but has lived in Dallas awhile as well, said he thinks what's happening in Ferguson could potentially happen here. DeBrazier disagreed.
"I don't think it will get that far," he said. "This city would blow up. I don't want anybody to get hurt behind this (movement), but I am glad they are tearing (Ferguson) up. This is not going to be swept under the carpet, and we need to keep this momentum going. Not just in Missouri, but across the United States.This is a problem everywhere."
"The point is," Zulu concluded. "People are fed up, man. People are tired of police brutality."
Bragg, who's lived in Dallas his entire 63 years, seemed tired, too.
"Dallas is supposed to be an international city," he said, "but it's still backwards in race relations."
Send your story tips to the author, Sky Chadde.
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