HOUSTON - Members of the gun rights group Open Carry Texas met with Fifth Ward community leaders Wednesday, hoping to explain why they chose an historic African-American community to hold a demonstration.
Members of the group were met by a chorus of voices telling them to stay out of the neighborhood and warned they will be "matched gun-for-gun."
"I'm going to tell you something homie, this is Fifth Ward, you ain't coming in here running nothing," community activist Quanell X said while flanked by members of the New Black Panther Party, who were holding assault rifles.
The two groups sat across from one another at a small folding table under a tree near the intersection of Lockwood and Lyons to discuss the details of Saturday's upcoming event.
Local 2 Investigates counted 15 Houston police officers on-hand to monitor the meeting.
"You're coming into the Fifth Ward and to the black community as insurgents," said Krystal Muhammad, with the New Black Panther Party.
"I beg your pardon?" said David Amad, with Open Carry Texas.
"You are insurgents," said Muhammad.
Members of Open Carry Texas have held hundreds of events where members walk through communities openly carrying rifles and shotguns in support of Second Amendment rights. The group's president, CJ Grisham, tried to explain why they chose the Fifth Ward for one of these events.
"We're trying to touch as many people as possible with our message that an armed society is a polite society," said Grisham.
The presidents of three Fifth Ward Civic Clubs shot back, questioning the group's motives.
"Let me just say for the record, we don't want you here," said Kathy Blueford-Daniels, president of Fifth Ward Super Neighborhood No. 55.
Other community leaders complained that the group should have reached out to them before scheduling an event.
"We do not need an education from you, you're coming here for the false reasons," said Kelvin Wagner, president of Fifth Ward Civic Club.
Eventually the meeting devolved into a shouting match and officers had to step in to ease tensions.
"You didn't come with an olive branch, you didn't come out of respect," said Quanell X.
"That's why we're here today," said Grisham.
Despite the angry words, members of Open Carry Texas said they still plan to hold their demonstration Saturday.
"I still don't understand why we have racial division. I don't understand why this is a racial issue," said Grisham.
As members of Open Carry Texas walked away from the table, they got a final warning.
"Saturday we will come and protect and defend our community because we don't trust them," said Quanell X. "Their motives are out of control."
Houston police officers told both sides there will be ground rules on Saturday. HPD officials said both sides will be kept separated and won't be allowed to interact with each other. HPD officials said Open Carry members will also not be allowed to march because they don't have a permit.
The event will be relegated to the esplanade at the intersection of Lockwood and Lyons.
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