Panther group to rally on campus

The New Black Panther Party announced it will hold a press conference and demonstration 10 a.m. Monday in support of the exotic dancer who alleged she was raped by members of the Duke men's lacrosse team at a March 13 party.

The event is slated to occur on Durham city property adjacent to West Campus.

In an e-mail sent to all students April 28, President Richard Brodhead wrote that despite rumors that the protesters would be armed, law enforcement officials will ensure the demonstration remains peaceful.

"[The Party] informed Duke Police that they have no intention of entering the campus to be disruptive in any way," Brodhead wrote. "They also assured us they will not have guns."

Malik Zulu Shabazz, national chairman of the black separatist group, told the Raleigh News & Observer that a rally would convene at the intersection of Chapel Drive and Duke University Road and that his group would be investigating the incident.

Shabazz also told the N&O his group would "deal directly" with members of the men's lacrosse team.

Aaron Graves, senior vice president for campus safety and security, said that because the meeting spot is not on University property, the bulk of responsibility for ensuring safety would fall on the Durham Police Department.

If the marchers enter campus, however, Duke University Police Department officers would join law enforcement efforts.

"I understand why, given the reputation of the group and the noise that's been made, people would be concerned," said John Burness, senior vice president for public and government relations. "But I want to assure everyone that the University will take all necessary steps to protect students."

As of Friday evening, officials from the NBPP had not contacted the University, he added. DUPD officers also attempted to contact the Party, but were unsuccessful, said Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta.

The New Black Panther Party was founded in 1990. Based out of Washington, D.C., the group combines anti-white and anti-Semitic creeds with Marxist and black separatist ideology. The NBPP has been condemned by the leaders of the 1960s-era Black Panther Party and the two are not affiliated.

An Anti-Defamation League spokesperson told the N&O that the group has been known to brandish firearms at events. Burness said marchers would not be allowed to carry weapons on campus, in accordance with state laws, but declined to say what methods they would use to enforce the law.

"Monday is an academic day and we want to make sure the atmosphere is conducive to academic work," Graves said.

Administrators met for approximately one hour Friday afternoon to discuss preparations for the demonstration. The meeting was chaired by Executive Vice President Tallman Trask and included officers from DUPD and the offices of Student Affairs and News and Communications.

"Since we still don't know what the intent [of the NBPP] is, we're planning appropriately," Moneta said. "It is absolutely, unequivocally our intent that there be no disruption for students."

Moneta said the University has been in constant communication with DPD and will be closely monitoring developments all weekend. An e-mail was sent to all members of the University community and he said more e-mails may be forthcoming if further information comes to light.

Sarah Ball and Shreya Rao contributed to this story.


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