New Black Panthers will carry guns in Cleveland if allowed

The New Black Panther Party says it will carry guns in Cleveland before the Republican National Convention if legally allowed, Reuters reported Tuesday.

“If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our Second Amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to do harm to us,” chairman Hashim Nzinga said.

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“If that state allows us to bear arms, the Panthers and others who can legally bear arms will bear arms.”

Ohio officials have said protesters can legally carry guns at demonstrations outside the convention under state law.

Eric Pucillo, vice president of Ohio Carry Inc., on Tuesday said he supports the rights of others to carry firearms near the convention site.

“As long as they’re abiding by the law, I see no issue with it,” said Pucillo. Ohio Carry Inc. is a nonpartisan firearms rights, education and advocacy organization.

Nzinga said “a couple hundred” New Black Panther Party members plan on attending a black unity rally scheduled for Thursday.

He added that his group plans on leaving Cleveland on Sunday, one day before the GOP convention opens.

“We are there to protect ... [the black unity] event,” he said. "We are not trying to do anything else.

“We are going to carry out some of these great legal rights we have — to assemble, to protest and [to exercise] freedom of speech.”

The New York Times on Monday said Ohio’s open-carry laws permit those with legal ownership to carry guns into many areas near next week’s convention.

Cleveland officials are promising extra security for the event, with resources coming from city, state and federal authorities.

The Secret Service is setting up a perimeter near the Quicken Loans Arena with stricter security. The zone will also prohibit guns from reaching the convention itself.

The New York Times said a group called the Oath Keepers also plans on carrying guns while in Cleveland.

The group, made up of current and former military members, has appeared heavily armed at other tense events.