Responding to the latest violent incidents in Milwaukee over the weekend, Babu Omowale, the so-called national minister of defense for the People’s New Black Panther Party, declared “Is it a war? Yes, it is. It’s a war against black people because we’re the ones being murdered.”
Omowale is also co-founder of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, a black militant gun group named after Black Panther Party founder Huey P. Newton.
Omowale was speaking in an interview set to air Sunday night on this reporter’s talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and News Talk 990 AM in Philadelphia.
Asked if the riots in Milwaukee following the police shooting on Saturday of an armed assailant fleeing the scene amounted to a “civil war,” Omowale responded thusly:
“The people against terrorism, and tyranny in their community is not a civil war. When you are speaking about civil war, you are talking about a country fighting against a country. This is oppressed people fighting against a racist, white supremacist police system. Which is meant to oppress a certain group of people. More than likely black people and poor people around the country.”
“What you see is people lashing out and fighting against the system. As it is said in the Second Amendment, you know. So this is not new. The people in this country have always defended themselves against tyranny. So I can’t liken this to a civil war. No it’s not. Is it a war? Yes, it is. It’s a war against black people because we’re the ones being murdered. We’re the ones being killed. So there’s been a war against us. But is it a civil war? I can’t say that that’s the case.”
Omowale admitted that the extent of his knowledge about the shooting in Milwaukee is limited to what has been presented by the news media. However, he called the incident “basically the same old, same old that is happening around the country. Black men are being murdered.”
“Whether he had a gun or not is not the narrative in this perspective,” he said, referring to the assailant in the case. “You have to understand that America is a country of guns. And people are going to own them. Unless that police officer was threatened with that man raising the gun up at him, and actually trying to do harm to him, he is absolutely wrong.”
During the interview, Omowale claimed the armed assailant was shot by police officers in the back. In response, I read to him the following description of the incident, as reported in the New York Times:
The violence erupted after an officer killed a man who the police said was armed with a semiautomatic handgun and who fled after a traffic stop.
The police said two uniformed officers stopped two people in a car at about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. The police did not provide details on why the car was stopped.
Both occupants ran from the car. During the pursuit, Mr. Barrett said, an officer ordered the man to drop his gun and fired when he did not, striking the man in the chest and an arm. He said the gun held 23 rounds.
The gunman, described by the police as a 23-year-old Milwaukee man with a lengthy arrest record, died at the scene.
Omowale reacted: “You say the man was running. If he’s running, then most definitely he is running in the opposite direction away from the police officer. Now could have gotten shot in the chest? Now that is possible because he could have turned in which direction he needed to go.”
“With a gun, don’t forget,” I pointed out. “And the police did tell him to put the gun down.”
“You are only telling me the police’s version,” Omowale retorted. “See the other man is dead. He can’t give his version.”
He continued: “We have seen so many times where police officers have made statements but yet cameras have come out to catch them in their lies. So it’s gotten to the point where America does not believe when a police officer says that someone turned toward them with a gun. And again having a gun does not justify killing someone.”
I asked whether the New Black Panther Party or members of Omowale’s black militant gun club are planning to mobilize in Milwaukee in light of the ongoing violence there.
“This incident just took place last night. We haven’t really had a chance to sit down and discuss the issue, to organize on it. Again, I remind you I just found out about it basically at the same time the rest of America found out about it. We have Black Panthers, the People’s New Black Panthers, Huey P. Newton Gun Club, based around the country. So I imagine there will be some type of Panther presence in Milwaukee if there is not already.”