WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s a controversial topic many people across the Cape Fear are talking about. Sparked by the revolutionary Black Panther Party announcing they are planning an armed march in Wilmington this weekend.
WWAY sat down with a local member who says their purpose is peace.
“I just don’t understand where people get the idea that we’re a hate group just because our mission statement is for the people that are being hurt the most and have been hurt the most,” said Oluwale Folami, a member of the local chapter of the Black Panthers.
He also says they are gearing up for a march in Wilmington Sunday “to get justice for injustices that are happening to black African people all around the world.”
WWAY first broke the story that the group was planning to march in the Creekwood neighborhood armed with guns. Since then District Attorney Ben David’s office released a statement saying if the group marched with guns they would be prosecuted.
We asked Folami if he knew about the district attorney’s statement and if he had a response.
“I don’t,” he said. “Legal questions will be directed to my chief.”
Folami did say they filed permits to carry guns in December, and it was denied with no justified reason.
Brandon Smith’s mother Paula Davis was among the members we spoke with about the march.
“It’s not like we’re trying to start violence or racism,” she said. “Any white mother, Mexican mother, or whoever if their kid get killed.”
In 2013, two deputies and an ATF agent shot Brandon Smith after he shot a deputy. The shooting was ruled justified by the District Attorney’s office. In the eyes of the Black Panther Party and Davis, this march is about paying respect to her son.
“It’s not a race thin. It’s love,” Davis said. “From the family. Family love. In the same way you would love yours, we love ours. We’re no different. Just skin color.”
They say they are marching in Smith’s honor among others who have died.
WWAY reached out to the national leader of the Black Panthers, and he said they are meeting with their attorneys in the morning to discuss their options. They are expecting a few dozen people to attend Sunday’s event.