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New Black Panther Party to Attend Pre-RNC Rallies Carrying Firearms

The chairman of the New Black Panther Party announced the group will attend pre-RNC events carrying firearms for self-defense.

"If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our second amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are threatening to do harm to us," Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

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

The group says it expects "a couple hundred" members to attend a pre-convention rally called "National Convention of the Oppressed." The event is scheduled for Thursday and the Panthers said they would leave Cleveland on Sunday before the RNC officially opens.

“We are there to protect ... We are not trying to do anything else,” he said. "We are going to carry out some of these great legal rights we have -- to assemble, to protest and (to exercise) freedom of speech.”

“I have people literally calling me saying this is the first time in my life I protested and I loved it.” Nzinga told Reuters. "They want to be a part of something. They tried to be a part of the system and the system let them down so they want to be part of a rebellion.”

Meanwhile, police departments are pulling out of RNC security plans. The Mansfield Police Department said "something came up" and the Richland County Sheriff's Department has decided not to attend saying "It's kind of a long drive."

The Cincinnati Police announced back in May they would not be assisting with security.