New Black Panthers to protest today

The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense will hold a demonstration at 10 a.m. today near the University 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 addition, there will be a 6 p.m. town hall-style meeting at St. Joseph's AME Church on Fayetteville Street.

In an e-mail sent to the University's students, faculty and staff 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 NBPP] 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."

Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, said Duke University Police Department officers had been in contact with representatives of the NBPP around 6 p.m. Friday.

Malik Zulu Shabazz, national chairman of the black separatist group, told the Raleigh News & Observer that a rally will convene at the intersection of Chapel Drive and Duke University Road and that his group will "conduct an independent investigation" of the alleged rape.

Shabazz also told the N&O that his group will "deal directly" with members of the men's lacrosse team. An Anti-Defamation League spokesperson told the N&O that the group has been known to brandish firearms at events.

It is illegal for anyone other than law enforcement personnel to carry firearms on college campuses in North Carolina.

A poster for the event showed pictures of Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, the two sophomores indicted in the rape case. "Had enough of disrespect and racism from Duke University? Demonstrate your discontent! Stand up!" the poster read. The two players' images also appear on the NBPP website.

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

"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."

Eddie Hull, executive director of housing services and dean of residence life, sent an e-mail outlining steps Residence Life and Housing Services will take Monday.

Hull wrote that residence hall card access will be restricted to residents only. He added that RLHS staff will be running increased rounds and will be monitoring propped doors and "tailgating"-the practice of individuals entering dormitories by following students who swipe their cards.

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

"It was a very short meeting," Moneta said of Sunday afternoon's discussion. "No one knew anything new and there was nothing in the newspaper. We're preparing for anything and hoping that nothing happens."

Moneta said the University has a "game plan" in place to handle the situation should marchers be armed or enter campus. "It is absolutely, unequivocally our intent that there be no disruption for students," Moneta said.

A poster for the town hall meeting said representatives of the NBPP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Nation of Islam will join Philip Cousins-senior pastor of St. Joseph's and a Durham County commissioner-and student leaders from North Carolina Central University.

The New Black Panther Party combines anti-white and anti-Semitic creeds with Marxist and black separatist ideology. It has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-hate non-profit group. The NBPP has been condemned by the leaders of the 1960s-era Black Panther Party.The two are not affiliated.

Sarah Ball and Shreya Rao contributed to this story.


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