Dozens of heavily-armed Black Panthers took to the streets of Texas yesterday chanting slogans about killing police officers as they protested the death of rights activist Sandra Bland.
Wielding AR-15 assault rifles, shotguns, and hunting rifles, the hard-line activists chanted slogans such as ‘Off the pigs’, ‘Whose streets? Our streets’ and ‘Oink, oink… bang, bang’.
The group, who said they were from the New Black Panthers movement, marched to the Waller County Jail where Bland died in police custody a month ago today.
According to Breitbart, hundreds of police were sent to meet with the Panthers, including 75 officers from neighboring Harris County.
Mounted police and cops armed with riot gear and shields were pictured protecting local businesses and the jail, but despite high tensions the protest remained peaceful.
The demonstration lasted for around two hours while helicopters circled overhead, before the marchers dispersed.
The New Black Panthers, considered by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to be a hate group, accused police of being behind the killing of Sandra Bland.
Bland was found dead in her cell in Waller County Jail on July 13 after being arrested three days earlier for an altercation during a routine traffic stop.
Dashcam footage of the arrest, by Trooper Brian Encinia, shows Encinita threatening Bland with a stun gun after she refuses to put out her cigarette.
Shortly afterwards the two are alleged to have got into a tussle, during which Bland kicked Encinita.
Bland then spent three days in custody and was due to be released after her sister raised bail money when she was found dead.
Waller County Sheriff’s Office has said she hanged herself with a trash bag, but a large number of Bland’s friends, family, and rights groups have refused to accept that explanation.
Encinita has since been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is carried out, while Bland’s family have filed a lawsuit against Waller County police.
Speaking last week, attorney Cannon Lambert said the family felt they had been forced to file a wrongful death suit in order to get more information about Bland’s death.
She accused police of being uncooperative, and said the family were angered by the fact that Encinita had not been fired from his job.
Yesterday’s march came just three days after a similar rally by Black Lives Matter protesters turned violent when activists stormed into the Waller County Sheriff’s Office.
Breitbart reported that a gang of demonstrators filled the lobby and began chanting so loudly that the 911 dispatchers in the office behind couldn’t hear the callers.
Deputies were called to clear out the lobby and lock the doors, but realized shortly afterwards that some demonstrators were still left inside.
Waller County sheriff Glenn Smith said his officers took the protesters through to the back office and let them out a side door, but the crowd outside thought they were being arrested, and tried to force their way back in.
Smith said officers then went outside to force the crowd back, and three of his men were injured.
After realizing that the other demonstrators were being released, rather than arrested, the marchers left without another disturbance.
Despite their name, the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) have no official affiliation with the infamous Black Panthers group that operated during the Sixties and Seventies.
While the founders of the NBPP claim they are the successors to the Black Panthers’ violent legacy, former Black Panther leaders have stated ‘there is no new Black Panthers’.
The group, once dubbed ‘the greatest threat to the internal security of the country’ by President J Edgar Hoover, was formed in 1966 to combat oppression of black people in the U.S.
Following the teachings of people such as Malcolm X, the group supported the use of force in order to hit back at authorities and protect their members.
The NBPP was formed in 1989 in Texas and claims to perpetuate that legacy, claiming several thousand members organized into 45 chapters.