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The Return Fire Movement: Self-Preservation is a Human Right

“An unarmed people are slaves or are subject to slavery at any given moment”

Huey P. Newton, co-founder and Minister of Defense of the Black Panther Party

Originally published by Abolition Media Worldwide.

After a few weeks of rebellions in dozens of cities nationwide in response to the police murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Black people, in the Bay Area and beyond, have begun to plan to live in a post-COVID-19 society and a post-2020 rebellion society, which basically translates into us realizing en masse that we have nobody to depend on but ourselves for protection, safety and everything else. This is not a new concept for some, but it is very new for others.

Anyone watching television in the US has watched Black people ruthlessly shot down by police since the dawn of the Obama regime. White vigilante murders of Black people are also on the rise, with the murder of Trayvon Martin, who was barbarically stalked and murdered by George Zimmerman in Florida. And just a few days ago, Robert Fuller, a Black man, was found lynched in Palmdale, California – hanged in front of City Hall.

Black people have to wrestle with the fact that if we want something different, we have to do something different. We must arm and protect our own community. Mainstream corporate media have conditioned us to think guns are bad and Black people with guns are “hooligans,” but a new consciousness is arising in the minds of those tired of seeing our people slaughtered, without repercussions.

“When I see white folks train their children with AR-15s, it’s probably not for hunting. We need every little piece of help to be able to protect our nation. I believe in arming our folks to protect. I don’t go looking for violence, but I believe if we all leave the house, we should be able to come back home without any incident,” said Anthony Dart, a Black Bay Area-based firearms instructor. “But if we run into an obstacle, we should have a plan to get around it.

“No matter who it is, we should always have some type of defense to protect the family. Being armed is just one of many ways to protect the family from anyone who comes to do harm.”

George Floyd was murdered, on May 25, 2020, by a Minneapolis white police officer who kneeled on his neck for over 8 minutes and 46 seconds, while three other cops watched the murdering cop ridicule and mimic the pro football player Colin Kaepernick’s protest kneel, killing Floyd in the process. Breonna Taylor was murdered on March 13, 2020, in Louisville, while she lay in her bed. The Louisville police ran into the wrong house with a no-knock warrant and shot her to death. George Floyd was unarmed, while Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend returned fire and was absurdly taken into custody for her murder, then released.

“We must match our threats to be able to stand a chance of survival. There are plenty of racist white gun clubs, where white people are training to keep control of this racist society,” said Scid Howard, the president of the Bay Area Mabel Ola Williams Gun Club, which is specifically for Black people. “They are training their kids as well. It’s all positive when they do it, but Black folks should feel ashamed?”

Corporate media has done a job on us. We have been conditioned to fear guns in the same way that the nation is programmed to fear the image of armed Black people, dating back to slavery. Imagery is powerful. The oppressor never wants to imagine the oppressed with an equalizer and definitely doesn’t want the oppressed to ever realize that their powerlessness is a well crafted and conditioned mirage.

“I have always been into guns. I was just ashamed to talk about it, because Black men are normally associated with gangsterism, when it comes to the topic of guns,” said Scid Howard. “Black people are feared with guns. I never understood why, but now I over-stand why. It was designed for me to feel powerless and ashamed.”

Locally, last April, Steven Taylor, a mentally handicapped Black man, was murdered, by police at the Walmart in San Leandro, and within the same month a Rancho Cordova police officer attempted to beat a young Black boy, a small 14-year-old, to death with his hands on the street. Nationally, on May 15, 2020, the Ahmaud Arbery murder footage was released of the Feb. 23, 2020, white vigilante killing of the Black jogger in Georgia.

On March 13, 2020, plainclothes policemen entered the wrong house serving a no-knock warrant. Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend shot at the intruders, hitting one. The police returned fire and ended up killing Breonna Taylor as she laid in her bed, shooting her over eight times. Then the cops took her boyfriend to jail for her murder.

On May 25, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, George Floyd was murdered by a cop who choked him to death by putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. On June 12, 2020, Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, fell asleep in the drive-thru of Wendy’s in Atlanta. When police arrived, they claimed that a struggle ensued, and the police ended up murdering Rayshard Brooks. Rebellions have been going on nationally for weeks to protest the rampant police murders.

“In certain situations, we should have stepped in, or become a barrier to help out the brother (Stephen Taylor) in Walmart, or made sure Arbery was armed before he went jogging. We have to step in and fight the police when you see them treating your people wrong. Yelling at them will not do it,” said Anthony Dart, the owner of Akoben Firearms Training.

“We are purposely left out of this kind of education. An educated armed Black man is this country’s biggest fear.”

In most of these police terror and white vigilante murders, their Black victims are usually unarmed, as well as, unlike the late police murder victim Philando Castile, most of the victims are untrained at using firearms. Most local Black people who have firearms illegally have never been formally trained. We need to better develop our communities’ capacity to handle firearms safely and effectively.

“First we meditate before we start the class. That way we are at one with ourselves. Then we learn what we are dealing with. Instead of jumping right into it, we learn what each component is on the firearm. After that we break the gun down and put it back together. That way we can see what it looks like taken apart,” said Anthony Dart, who has been handling guns since he was 10 years old in Mississippi.

“After a few drills of holding, learning how to stand, making sure we are comfortable with the firearm, then we go to the range, and we put all those drills that we learn into practice. Then we shoot. Then after all that, I take them over, so they can take their test for the FSC (Firearm Safety Certificate) so they can be eligible to buy a firearm the next time they go to a gun store.”

The Firearm Safety Certificate test seems to be much like taking the California driver’s license test.

“It’s just a multiple choice test with 40 questions. You can only get seven questions wrong. The questions are common sense and all of the answers are on Google or YouTube,” said Scid Howard, president of the Mabel Ola Williams Gun Club. “Once you pass the test, you get a certificate lasting for five years which allows you to buy guns. Then you’re given a background check by the DOJ (Department of Justice). You can’t have any felonies or violent criminal offenses, and no record of mental illness either.”

Whether you need your own personal firearms trainer, or you prefer to learn in a group setting, we all need to make it a priority to be involved with one or the other, if not both.

There is a war going on where Black people are the target, and we are not fighting for our own survival.

“The Mabel Ola Williams Gun Club is a space for us to train for self-defense. Our gun club is named after a Black woman named Mable Ola Williams. She was a revolutionary who started a Black gun club back in the early 1900s, along with her husband, Robert Williams, because of the KKK killing Black people,” said Oakland native Scid Howard. “She organized a Black gun club, teaching Black people how to fight back. She also became targeted by the Klan and had to flee to Cuba like Assata Shakur.

“We are purposely left out of this kind of education. An educated armed Black man is this country’s biggest fear.”

Black gun clubs are the future, as Black people in this nation realize that, in order to feel safe, we need to utilize a form of collective security. “The Mabel Ola Williams Gun Club teaches about the importance of being armed. We offer defensive and offensive training, and we help folks get comfortable, as well as we help people to get access to the weapons of choice,” explained Scid Howard.

“I always tell the person to see what firearm fits good in your hand, and make sure you are able to perform with it,” explained Anthony Dart.

The last few weeks of rebellion have birthed a new era of consciousness in defending our communities against the police and racist white vigilantes, much like in the eras of Black self-defense organizations of the past like the Deacons for Defense, the African Blood Brotherhood and the Black Liberation Army.

“I think we need to organize our hoods, snatch up our youngstas, train and give them responsibility and love. We have the power to stop this shit,” stated Scid Howard, poetically. “Imagine cops being too afraid to come into our neighborhoods because they know that shit can get ugly for them and their whole squad. Change the game, one by one. Make it cool to fight against our real enemies. Everyone is already feeling that. We just need to put that energy into motion.”

There is a war going on where Black people are the target, and we are not fighting for our own survival. We are just protesting and trying to get new laws written, through Black politicians that have done less in their decades of service than the rebels fighting across the country have done in the last two weeks. Protect each other. We are all we have.

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