- Faith & Family
More than a month ago, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who has not been arrested by alleging that he fired in self-defense. Many people and organizations have written op-eds detailing their outrage or attended one of numerous rallies held across the country in protest of the teen’s death.
Not content with these more passive forms of protest, the New Black Panther Party [NBPP], a Black political group, recently offered a $10,000 reward for the “citizen’s arrest” of Zimmerman. On the NBPP website, Zimmerman’s picture has been placed on a wanted poster for the “murder/hate crime” of killing Martin.
“We cannot sit back as men and allow Zimmerman to remain free and on the loose because he is a danger to himself and others,” said Chawn Kweli, the national spokesman for the NBPP. “We demand the police do their job and arrest and charge Zimmerman. In the meanwhile, we must use our Constitutional rights and Florida law to organize a citizen’s arrest in order to see that justice is done.”
Sanford police have reportedly said that they were ignoring NBPP’s demand to arrest Zimmerman.But for those considering taking up the NBPP’s offer, there are several concerns to consider. First while it is legal for citizens to arrest another person, there are strict parameters.
In another publication, Elaine Cohen, associate dean at the Institute of Public Safety at Broward College, recommended citizens to not use more force than needed and to call police right away.
The call for a citizen’s arrest has captured the attention of several media outlets recently, but this is not the first time that the NBPP has been in the spotlight.
Founded in 1989, the Black separatist organization has frequently been criticized for their anti-Semitic and anti-white hatred, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Although the New Black Panthers claim kinship with the goals and spirit of the original Black Panthers for Self-Defense Party which was most active in the 1960s and 1970s, they have not been formally recognized by original Panther party members.
The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation issued a statement in response to inquiries about the New Black Panthers, saying, “As guardian of the true history of the Black Panther Party, the Foundation which includes former leading members of the Party, we denounce this group’s exploitation of the Party’s name and history.”
By Kaila Heard