As the nation reels from the deaths of two Black gun-owning men at the hands of police and five Dallas police officers killed by a young Black man who they say was “upset about the recent police shootings,” a member of a local anti-police brutality and pro-2nd-Amendment group leveled responsibility at city officials and systemic police abuse.
“What created the situation that happened yesterday is very historical,” said Yafeuh Balogun, a Dallas native and member of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club. Colorlines spoke to Balogun via phone while he traveled to bail a fellow member—Reign Ifa, who was arrested during last night’s (July 7) peaceful protest—out of jail.
Balogun offered Colorlines a statement in response to the killing, denouncing violence and calling out what he sees as historic police violence against Dallas residents of color:
What created the situation that happened yesterday is very historical. It’s very historical in the sense that, in the 1970s, Santos Rodriguez, in the city of Dallas, was murdered. There was very little show of sympathy around that. Those themes of injustice were planted then and ultimately what led us to yesterday’s incident. I think the city has failed, and I’m probably the only person that will state that. The city manager, the mayor, the police chief, the city councilmen, all of them are guilty for sowing the seeds of the lack of justice that has plagued our communities—specifically the Black, Brown and poor people here in Dallas. That emotion, that situation, is what created that incident yesterday. Now, I must add that we do not support violence, but we understand that violence begets violence, and we are sympathetic to why this incident occurred yesterday. We understand it because there has been so much injustice that has occurred over the past 40 years in Dallas.
Santos Rodriguez was a Latino youth killed by a Dallas police officer during a Russian roulette-style interrogation.
Balogun also added that several Gun Club members were “snatched out of the crowd” by police and detained in the aftermath of yesterday’s violence. He noted that he did not know Mark Hughes, the Black man carrying a rifle during yesterday’s action who Dallas police publicly identified as a suspect before clearing him (although, according to The Washington Post, Hughes is still receiving death threats stemming from the false identification).
The Huey P. Newton Gun Club ”seeks to inform the international community and have them recognize the oppressive conditions that exist in every Black, Brown, and poor White community across the United States of America,” according to its website. Known for actions aimed against police violence and racism that involve members openly carrying arms, Gun Club members notably stood armed outside a South Dallas mosque with other community members last April when they were confronted by an armed anti-Muslim group.