HOUSTON - The controversial Open Carry Texas group has postponed their planned march through Houston's Fifth Ward. The group planned to march through the historically African American neighborhood on Saturday, but many neighbors and the New Black Panther Movement said they were not welcome.
Members of the gun rights group met with Fifth Ward community leaders Wednesday, hoping to explain why they chose that neighborhood to hold a demonstration.
They 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 the upcoming event.
Local 2 Investigates counted 15 Houston police officers on-hand to monitor the meeting.
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.
Other community leaders complained that the group should have reached out to them before scheduling an event.
Eventually the meeting devolved into a shouting match and officers had to step in to ease tensions.
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."
On Thursday, Open Carry Texas postponed the event and released the following statement:
Open Carry Texas is dedicated to the safe and legal carry of firearms. We believe that the Second Amendment is color blind and that everyone should be allowed to exercise this fundamental right without fear of retribution, harassment, or threats of violence.
Since the joint meeting in 5th Ward on Wednesday, several members of the community have reached out to us with a heartfelt desire to work together to make a 5th Ward event possible. It became obvious over the past few days that certain individuals in the area were intentionally pitting us against the community. After numerous phone calls and exchanges of emails with community leaders, the OCT board voted unanimously to postpone the event for a future date in order to give OCT and 5th Ward leadership an opportunity to overcome the controversy associated with this event.
"Our goal has always been to hold this demonstration with 5th Ward, not just in 5th Ward," said OCT President CJ Grisham. "We have an opportunity to correct all the lies, miscommunication, and vitriol associated with this event and express our true intent. I'm more than happy to push this event back to make that happen."
Open Carry Texas' mission to educate the public about the need for lawful open carry will continue throughout the state. We will always face opposition to our goals and efforts, but we never stop finding ways to ensure our efforts are understood by those with whom our members come in contact.
We look forward to holding a peaceful demonstration with the historic 5th Ward in the near future. We will work with residents and leaders to pick a date that is conducive to a peaceful, friendly event. No new date has been chosen for the event at this time.
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