Organizer Ken Reed said amid Confederate flags, “Obviously we’re exercising our Second Amendment rights but that’s because we have to defend ourselves.”
By Sheryl Estrada
Waving Confederate flags and armed with assault rifles, White Lives Matter supporters stood in front of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) office in Houston’s Third Ward on Sunday demanding the organization refute Black Lives Matter.
Scott Lacy, a White Lives Matter member, saidin an interview with KPRC-TV the group chose to protest at the location, which is a predominately Black area, because the NAACP is “one of the most racist groups in America.”
The protest began around noon with about 20 people. When the crowd began to increase in size, including counter protesters, police arrived on horseback and put up barricades.
White supremacists protest @naacp_houston and Black Lives Matter.Is this a part of what some call the “Trump effect pic.twitter.com/lfHnA98za8
Jose Grinan (@JoseGrinanFOX26) August 21, 2016
Twitter users noted the police’s treatment of White Lives Matter protesters:
Torraine Walker (@TorraineWalker) August 21, 2016
“We came out here specifically today to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-Black organizations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities and things of that nature,” organizer Ken Reed,who was wearing a “Donald Trump ’16” hat,told The Houston Chronicle. “If they’re going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable.”
The protesters were armed, as Texas firearm laws say it’s legal for a person to carry, either open or concealed, in a non-threatening or alarming manner, a shotgun or rifle. In this case, interpretation of the law may be subjective. Reed said, however, they weren’t there to “start any problems.”
“We’re not out here to instigate or start any problems,” he said. “Obviously we’re exercising our Second Amendment rights but that’s because we have to defend ourselves. Their organizations and their people are shooting people based on the color of their skin. We’re not. We definitely will defend ourselves, but we’re not out here to start any problems.”
Reed may be referring to violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement that took place in Milwaukee following the shooting death of Sylville Smith, a Black male, by a Milwaukee police officer August 13.
The NAACP did issue a statement on August 15, which said in part:
“We call on all of those who are grieving the loss of life to engage in nonviolent protest to prevent more loss of life. More violence means more mourning and even less justice.At the same time, we call upon the police to support and protect the rights of protestors by engaging in open communications to de-escalate situations and by not resorting to military-style tactics.”
On “CBS This Morning”July 8, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks addressed the assassination of police officers in Dallas by a lone gunman following a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. He called it “absolutely horrific.”
“The fact that they gave their lives for fellow citizens, for civilians for this country, speaks well of their character as police officers,” he said. “It speaks well of the Constitution. It speaks well of our country, even amidst this grief-stricken moment.”
“It’s clear that we can appreciate and have respect for the work that law enforcement does day in and day out, where they put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens, even as we hold them to the highest standards of accountability, so we can grieve for the loss of their lives,” Brooks said.
“But we can also grieve for the loss of Mr. Castile and Mr. Sterling and their families. At the end of the day … our lives matter, whether your skin is Black or your uniform is blue.”
Brooks described police misconduct as a form of modern “racialized violence” and compared it to the NAACP’s campaign against lynching. He said it could be repaired with some “political will” at the state, federal and municipal levels.
In an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation”on July 10, Brooks did not specifically address the Black Lives Matter movement but said protesting and demonstrations are necessary.
“We have thousands of young people, older activists in the streets of this country,” he said. “They’re in the streets of this country protesting and demonstrating because they believe profoundly that they can bring about an end to police misconduct. That is an affirmation of who we are as our country.”
The Confederate Flag
According to Reed, holding Confederate flags outside of the NAACP “has nothing to do with racism on our part.”
“We’re proud to be Southern,” he said. “It has all to do about heritage, nothing to do with hate.”
But the Confederate flag, or “rebel flag,” is a message of opposition to civil rights legislation and racism for an organization founded in 1909 by Blackand Whiteintellectuals appalled by the violence committed against Blacks, including lynching.
In actuality, the Confederate flag represents rebellion, not heritage. The Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee adopted the Confederate flag. However, it isnot one of the three national flagsthat were used to represent the Confederate nation during the Civil War, with the first one called “Stars and Bars.” The flag was only associated with the Confederacy after the South lost the Civil War.
There was a revival of the Confederate flag in the 1940s. In 1948, the segregationistDixiecrat Partyushered in the use of the battle flag as a symbol of resistance to government. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) then used the flag to support its agenda of hate. Though not the group’s official flag, it had a substantial influence on the symbolism of the flag.
“The Confederate flag throws me off,” resident Quintina Richardson told The Houston Chronicle. “You’re saying Black Lives Matter is a racist organization but when you’re throwing the Confederate flag up and saying White Lives Matter, are you saying you’re racist”