The New Black Panther Party will carry firearms for self-defense during protests in Cleveland ahead of next week's U.S. Republican convention, if allowed under Ohio law, the group's chairman said.
The announcement by the group comes as police in Cleveland brace for an influx of groups that plan demonstrations before and during the presidential nominating convention.
"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 NBPP, 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."
Several other groups, including some supporters of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have said they will carry weapons in Cleveland.
Officials in Ohio have said it will be legal for protesters to carry weapons at demonstrations outside the convention under that state’s "open carry" law, which allows civilians to carry guns in public.
Groups like the NBPP promote defense against racial oppression, with some advocating the establishment of armed self-defense groups, black social institutions and a self-sufficient economy.
The NBPP was founded in 1989 and it has long called for a separate black nation. But Nzinga said the movement was now focused on protecting black Americans' rights.