On Sunday, the Revolutionary Black Panther Party held a press conference in North Carolina, according to NBC’s WECT 6.
The group had all the normal trappings of a press conference as the members stood on the steps of the New Hanover County Courthouse.
They brought a microphone.
And, read from talking points.
However, the Black Panther group added a unique — and illegal — element to its press conference: firearms.
Sunday’s press conference intended to highlight the events that were to follow throughout the day, including a tribunal and armed vigil.
WECT 6 reported that the armed vigil was originally an armed march, but was changed after the district attorney’s office declared they would prosecute anyone who was caught possessing firearms in a public space.
While the group was willing to change its march, it appears they didn’t seem to think firearm laws also applied to standing on county property.
WECT’s James Johnson was on the scene when New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office arrived towards the end of the event and seized 10 weapons from the group. Of the 10 weapons, there were 2 revolvers, 5 semi-automatic pistols, and 3 shotguns, all of which were loaded.
Revolutionary Black Panther members fully and peacefully cooperated with police, but the group’s leader, Dr. Alli Muhammad, claimed they were unfairly targeted. He told Time Warner Cable News:
“The actions of the Wilmington Police Department and the police chief are in essence a violation of the U.S. Constitution and our constitutional rights as well as our civil rights.”
According to Sheriff Ed McMahon, the group clearly disregarded local county ordinance section 38-31 by possessing weapons. As reported by ABC’s WWAY TV3, McMahon said the police department “will not tolerate violations of the law.”
Lieutenant J.J. Brewer, a spokesperson for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, told WECT that all of the weapons had serial numbers and can be picked up by their owner with proper identification.
The group vowed to continue its efforts to fight injustice and moved its meeting, as well as the rest of the day’s events, to a private location.