Protesters take part in a demonstration in Southampton, England, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (Andrew Matthews/PA via AP)
The Black Lives Matter movement will develop an armed branch of “peace officers” to combat police brutality in black communities during the so-called “war on police,” according to one of its leaders.
Protests broke out across the country following the death of unarmed Minneapolis black man George Floyd while in police custody, bringing the BLM movement back into national focus. In an interview with the Daily Mail, BLM New York chapter Chairman Hawk Newsome described how the group plans to follow in the footsteps of the Black Panthers Party by matching fire with fire – when necessary.
“We’re talking about self-defense. We’re talking about defending our communities,” Newsome said. “You know what it’s like to see a taser pointed at a 7-year-old, you know what it’s like to see a 67-year-old black woman … pepper sprayed and pushed to the ground?”
“We are preparing and training our people to defend our communities.”
Newsome attended a national conference in Los Angeles of party leadership to discuss how the movement can create a “pathway forward” for people. The plan, called “Black Opts” for Black Opportunities, details how the movement can help to liberate black people.
“We have black Special Forces officers advising us, and we will teach and train people in our communities, the Black Opts department of Black Opportunities,” Newsome said.
Demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The move is reminiscent of the Black Panthers Party, which created “peace officers” who open-carried firearms while patrolling black communities in order to deter police brutality. Newsome confirmed that the BLM “peace officers” would also be armed and open carry guns in states that allow it.
“We pattern ourselves after the Black Panthers, after the Nation of Islam, we believe that we need an arm to defend ourselves,” Newsome explained. “We will build and train peace officers to keep the peace in our communities, to defend our communities, to keep our communities safe.”
The New York chapter is at the forefront of the movement, the largest of the 40 chapters the organization operates globally, according to its website. Newsome, who worked as a project manager at a law firm before becoming full-time activist, claimed his chapter has grown into one of the most effective ones in the world.
Newsome says his chapter is raising funds for a “war chest” and plans to build a headquarters in an unused church in New York.
“When we start talking about black opportunities and building our war chest to defend ourselves from the war on the poor. .. to defend ourselves against the war that is anti-blackness in America, then people will have to meet a certain criteria.”
The “blueprint” for the way forward will be unveiled in Times Square in New York on Sunday at 12 p.m. and delivered to communities across the country.