This weekend marked the second time Open Carry Texas planned to march in one of Houston's historically African American neighborhoods. And, for the second time, the Open Carry Texas folks called it off.
Why? Well, things got pretty ugly last week when representatives of the Fifth Ward, led by Quanell X, head of the New Black Panther Party in Houston, and representatives of the Houston branch of Open Carry Texas, led by David Amad, sat down to hash things out. The original plan was to hold a rally to encourage people in the historically African American neighborhood to get armed and do some of that gun-toting stuff that is so near and dear to the hearts of those in the Open Carry movement. Amad says he sees the rallies a way of encouraging African Americans to exercise their Second-Amendment rights to carry guns. The problem is many representatives of the Fifth Ward don't exactly see things from that angle.
Amad still says that this whole thing isn't about race; it's about guns, the power they give to the people, and who has the power, or, you know, the guns. "The mission of Open Carry Texas is to promote the open carry of firearms in Texas in all the neighborhoods in Texas, and the Fifth Ward just happens to be the next neighborhood in Texas we plan on going to," Amad says. "We try and be as intelligent and reasonable as we possibly can. We're not here to make enemies."
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The Open Carry rally was first scheduled to be held back in June -- actually on Juneteenth weekend, which may or may not have been a coincidence. There was an outcry in the Fifth Ward community, and charges of racism flew (apparently a bunch of armed white guys marching through a black neighborhood on the anniversary of the freeing of Texas slaves can inflame racial tensions).
However, Amad insists that was the furthest thing from the intentions of the group. After some careful consideration, that first rally was scrapped while Amad reached out to some Fifth Ward leaders to talk things out and see if they could set up another rally.
The rescheduled march was supposed to take place on Saturday, but Amad said he talked with Quannell X, the leader of the New Black Panthers, and they had lots of friendly and peaceful discussions about the rally over the past few weeks, according to Amad (we're still waiting for Quanell X to give us his side of the story.) But Amad says the tone changed last week when Quanell X started talking to media types, criticizing the Open Carry folks, and saying that his people could take care of themselves. (The police shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown, and the resulting riots in Ferguson, Missouri, the previous probably didn't help things, either.)
A meeting last week in the Fifth Ward rapidly deteriorated into verbal scrapping while a bevvy of reporters looked on. After that members of the state branch of Open Carry Texas voted to cancel the Fifth Ward rally so they can sit down with some different Fifth Ward leaders to talk things out and see if there's a better way to handle the whole thing. "We haven't canceled anything. It's just been postponed," Amad insists. "The Fifth Ward leaders recommended that we meet with them in private, away from all the cameras, and then talk about this and see what we can do."