WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) — Ten weapons were seized at the Revolutionary Black Panther Party press conference Sunday morning.
Members of the RBPP held a press conference Sunday to go over their plans for the events scheduled the rest of the day. Those events include a tribunal at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday followed by an armed vigil at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
It was announced at the press conference that the group made the decision to hold an armed vigil instead of the armed march which they had been planning all week.
The decision came after New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David issued a statement Thursday in response to the planned “armed march.”
In the parties response to David’s statement, party leader Dr. Alli Muhammad stated they believe the District Attorney and the Wilmington Police Chief are engaging in acts designed to suppress their freedom of expression.
“The DA and Wilmington Police Chief are engaging in acts designed to chill our freedom of expression,” Muhammad said. “One of the basic tenants of the constitution that they are sworn to uphold. The DA and everyone under his directives is engaging in selective enforcement which amounts to viewpoint content discrimination. The unconstitutional acts carried out by the Wilmington Police Department and the DA will be fought tooth and nail.”
Muhammad then stated that N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-415.23 states “Any person adversely affected by any ordinance or rule that lawfully regulates the possession of a firearm is allowed to bring sue.”
“We maintain that the current statue cited by the DA and police in order to violate our constitutional, civil and human rights is a crime and it is because we are black and it is because we are black panthers. This is in clear violation of the state and US constitution, freedom of expression and the right to bear arms. We of the Revolutionary Black Panther Party are lawful and any violation against the people of this state and the United States of America and against us as the people and against you as the people or against we as the people are a crime.”
Near the end of the press conference the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office was brought in to address the gathering due to its location on county property at the courthouse and to seize the party’s weapons.
According to a Lieutenant J.J. Brewer, spokesperson with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, members of the Revolutionary Black Panther Party were in violation of local county ordinance section 38-31 by possession of a weapon. The ordinance states “The Display of Firearms and Possession of Concealed Handguns Prohibited on this Property”
Brewer added that deputies also had members at the press conference who were wearing masks, lower their mask due to North Carolina state law prohibiting the wearing of masks at meetings or demonstrations.
According to Brewer, the deputies seized 10 weapons. Out of the weapons seized by the Sheriff’s Office there were 2 revolvers, 5 semi-automatic pistols, and 3 shotguns. All of them were loaded.
This investigation is on-going and additional information will be released as it becomes available.
Muhammad said deputies told him they would get their weapons back Monday.
“We will not tolerate violations of the law,” Sheriff McMahon stated.
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