On a hot Louisiana summer day, local residents gathered Saturday afternoon to form the newest chapter of the New Black Panther Party. The group so violent and confrontational, that even Huey Newton founder of the original Black Panthers distanced himself from the group before his death, has launched a new chapter in Baton Rouge.
But the real question is, did they have anything to do with the shooting of seven Baton Rouge police officers today. The New Black Panthers arrived in Baton Rouge last Saturday just one day after the shooting of 7 Dallas police officers, to protest the officer-involved shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling. Two videos of the shooting sparked national outcry and protests across Baton Rouge. Now, just one week later, another three local police officers are dead, and 4 more are wounded,
But Jerald Justice said the group was approached by local residents like Edwin Smith to help establish a Baton Rouge chapter and has no connection to today’s violence. “It is time for new leadership and a new organization to step forward in Baton Rouge,” Smith said. “I feel like the New Black Panther Party is the organization that can bring new leadership to Baton Rouge.” “With the help of the New Black Panther Party, these members should be able to handle any or everything in their city,” Justice said.
Over the course of five days of demonstrations, authorities arrested 185 protesters in Baton Rouge. Friday, District Attorney Hillar Moore said that his office will not prosecute 100 protesters who were only charged with misdemeanor crimes.
Justice said that the Black Panthers were involved in the protests, but none of their members were arrested or were carrying guns during the demonstrations. “Not one official member arrested. Not one official member hurt,” Justice said. “Every member went home.” Which is more than I can say for the police officers.
WBRZ-TV contributed to this story.
©2016 R. L. Grimes