By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
TAMPA— People expecting stiff resistance from the New Black Panther Party at the Republican National Convention in Tampa next week can breathe a sigh of relief.
Speaking exclusively to Florida Watchdog, Michelle Williams, chief of staff for the local chapter of the New Black Panther Party in Tampa-St. Petersburg, said her group has no more plans to appear alongside Republican delegates at the RNC, Aug. 27-30.
“We were ordered to stand down by our national chairman during the event of the RNC so there is no ruckus,” said Williams. “We’ve told our members to stand down. No uniforms or anything.”
“We don’t have any plans to be anywhere near the RNC,” Williams told Florida Watchdog, adding that she hoped “no would get hurt while protesting.”
“In the city of Tampa, we are under siege by the Republican National Convention, headers of this collective-minded group of white people, tea partiers, tea baggers, people who hate black people,” she said on the program.
But despite her group’s absence at the RNC, Williams is still adamant about the need for a presence.
“If you’re going to scare conservative white people, at least scare them with the facts,” said Williams. “That’s what’s wrong with these white news guys. They scare the American people, both black and white.”
“They’re angry because I called them a honky, cracker, a pig, a pink person. We may need to call on a national boycott,” said Williams. “We spend $357 billion in the economy and we have absolutely no respect, no power.
“How are we going to stop white police officers from killing handcuffed black men? Unarmed black teens? Beating up women in public?” Williams asked.
“Everything starts locally. You have to change the local government before you can change the national government.”
As of 12:57 a.m. Wednesday, the social media sites of the local chapter of the New Black Panther Party were still advertising the “Tampa Bay Black Power Convention,” to be held Saturday, Aug. 25 in Robles Park Village. Williams said she has communicated with all members of the NBPP, and the event will not be held.
The Tampa Police Department told Florida Watchdog it was unaware of any specific protest plans at the RNC.
“I’m not aware of any convention by the New Black Panther Party,” said Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. “Have they applied for a permit?”
McElroy added that any demonstrations by any groups would be welcomed — as long as protesters stayed within the bounds of the official “event zone,” as determined by the Tampa City Council in June.
“The demonstrations and the marches that occur outside the RNC are a staple of the event. This is a forum for having your voice heard — it’s part of the political process,” said McElroy.
“The New Black Panthers would just be one of many groups — dozens, possibly hundreds — that are coming to Tampa to take part in the political process. We’ve even set up an event zone.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization based in Montgomery, Ala., considers the New Black Panther Party a “virulently racist and anti-Semitic” hate group.
“By injecting themselves into racially charged and other high-profile events, the NBPP has won considerable press attention. When members march, they often wear coordinated, military-style uniforms — black boots, black pants, a black shirt with NBPP patches on it, and black berets,” writes the Southern Poverty Law Center on its website.
“Firstly, the people in the New Black Panthers were never members of the Black Panther Party and have no legitimate claim on the Party’s name,” wrote the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation on its website, dedicated eponymously to the original founder of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, Calif.
“The Black Panthers were never a group of angry young militants full of fury toward the ‘white establishment.’ The Party operated on love for black people, not hatred of white people.”
Email: Yael@FloridaWatchdog.org and on Twitter: @Yaeloss