A group of black protesters chanted "black power" and faced down a group of white protesters demonstrating against a mosque in a heated racial showdown Saturday in Dallas that was closely monitored by police because both sides carried guns, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The black group showed up to oppose a white contingent who regularly gather outside Dallas-area mosques waving American flags. The protest Saturday against the Nation of Islam mosque was organized by Bureau of American Islamic Relations, which advocates against so-called radical Islam and takes its name from the national Muslim advocacy group CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group accused the Nation of Islam mosque of “promoting violence against Americans openly and publicly,” according to a Facebook page about the event.
“We cannot stand by while all these different Anti American, Arab radical Islamists team up with Nation of Islam/Black Panthers and White anti American Anarchist groups, joining together in the goal of destroying our Country and killing innocent people to gain Dominance through fear!” the event invite said.
The white protesters wore camouflage and carried guns and an American flag. After they were challenged, they quickly left and the showdown ended without violence. “It’s a people’s victory here in South Dallas today,” said Yafeuh Balogun of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, named for the late founder of the original Black Panther Party in the 1960s.
Dallas police said they deployed "significant resources" in the area ahead of the showdown to ensure the community's safety.
The counterprotesters were led by the Huey P. Newton Gun Club and the New Black Panther Party. Activists said they weren't surprised the white activists left once they had opposition.
“This is what they fear — the black man,” said activist Olinka Green. “This is what America fears.”
Krystal Muhammad, national chair of the New Black Panther Party, said BAIR had tried to “intimidate and bully” the mosque. She and other protesters showed up dressed in black, because “no one else will protect our people,” she said.
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“This is an armed defense maneuver, making sure that our communities are safe and secure from any insurgents coming in. We won’t allow anybody to come in and try to intimidate our brothers and sisters," she said.
Robert Greaves, who lives in South Dallas, said blacks are angry with white America for attacking the African-American community. “This is the black America that white America made,” he said.
Texas has seen tensions over race and religion come to a boil in recent months. Irving, Texas, a city of 230,000 just outside Dallas, is home to one of the largest mosques in North America. Protesters have gathered at the mosque with loaded rifles and signs that read: "Stop the Islamization of America," NPR reported.
Irving made global headlines in September when a 14-year-old boy, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested for bringing what he called a homemade clock to his high school and authorities suspected it was a bomb. In May, the nearby city of Garland was divided after police killed two Islamic extremist gunmen who planned to confront a meeting where people had gathered to see cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
About 25 percent of Dallas residents are black, while the nation is roughly 13 percent black, according to U.S. Census data.