A new group calling itself the Huey P. Newton Gun Club launched armed self-defense patrols Wednesday with one stated purpose: to protect Dallas neighbors from police.
Group leader Charles Goodson said recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri over the killing of an unarmed black teen named Michael Brown by a white police officer is only part of the reason for the new Dallas patrols.
The group is named after Huey P. Newton, a founder of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s who was killed by a rival militant in 1989.
"We don't think that what happened to Michael Brown in St. Louis is an isolated incident. We have so many Michael Browns here in the city of Dallas," Goodson said.
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Another leader, Huby Freeman, said the group wants to educate neighbors about the right to bear arms and the need for it.
"We believe we can police ourselves and bring security to our community, ridding our community of black-on-black crime, violence, police terror, etc., etc.," Freeman said.
Freeman and more than two dozen other people, many carrying rifles, marched Wednesday afternoon along Martin Luther King Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard, streets named for civil rights leaders.
David Harrison, whose mentally disabled brother was killed by Dallas police two months ago, attended the march in support. Harrison said an autopsy showed his brother was shot six times, twice in the back.
"When you have to plant your loved ones, it's rough. And it's forever," Harrison said.
At one point, the march went to Elaine's Restaurant on Martin Luther King Boulevard, where demonstrators piled rifles on tables as they ordered cold drinks and food.
A Dallas police lieutenant and deputy chief were eating lunch in the restaurant at the time. They politely spoke to the demonstrators as they paid their bills.
Owner Elaine Campbell said police officers look out for her and she is not worried about them.
"No, I'm here over 25 years and I'm not afraid of them," she said.
Campbell also welcomed the extra business from the armed demonstrators.
"I just happen to go with the flow and don't let them bother me," she said.
Watching the march go by on Malcolm X Boulevard, tire store owner George Rogers said he was not ready to join.
"If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have to worry about the police," he said. "As long as you're abiding by the law, I think you're all right."
Huey P. Newton Gun Club organizers hope neighbors will take up arms and join future patrols.
"We think we can lead by example, so hopefully they will see that they have the ability to do this and they will exercise this pertaining to the issues that we're dealing with in this city," Goodson said.
In response to a request to Dallas police for comment about the Huey P. Newton Gun Club patrols, Chief David Brown issued a statement saying, "the Dallas Police Department supports the constitutional rights of all."