As President Donald Trump’s supporters gathered downtown Saturday to dispute the results of the election, about 200 armed activists patrolled the streets of South Dallas in an attempt to curb violence in the community. Most of the patrollers were with various chapters of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club from across the country. As they marched with their guns slung over their shoulders, they shouted, “Who protects us? We do!” Named after the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Huey P. Newton, community organizers Yafeuh and Rakem Balogun along with Babu Omowale formed the group in 2014. The same year, the gun club gained national attention for their armed protests in Dallas and have organized several community patrols in several of the city’s underserved, high crime areas. “We wanted to come out here and respond to the violence that has occurred in the community and try to be something positive,” Yafeuh Balogun said.
A resident in one of the neighborhoods the patrollers marched through said she often hears the sound of gunshots ringing out in the community. “We do need to stop the violence,” she said. “Especially with these folks killing each other like I don’t know what.” By a very small metric, overall violent crime is down in Dallas, but homicides are up, the highest they’ve been in 10 years. The city was in a similar place last year when both the mayor and police chief rolled out their own plans to make Dallas safer. Around the same time that state troopers were deployed in South Dallas that summer, Yafeuh Balogun, along with activist groups Guerrilla Mainframe and Black Empowerment Movement, stationed themselves in the Highland Park Apartment Complex. The apartments sit in Highland Hills, an area riddled with crime. Their role in the community was similar to the violence interrupters proposed by the city. According to crime statistics provided to the complex manager by the police, crime decreased during the time the activists were conducting their patrols. [full article]