Armed ‘White Lives Matter’ Group Rallies at NAACP

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White Lives Matter protesters staged a rally outside the NAACP’s Houston headquarters on Sunday, igniting controversy and counter-protests in the city.

The protesters, who were armed with assault rifles, Confederate flags and white supremacist signs, stood on the sidewalk of a historically Black neighborhood to denounce the organization.

“We’re not out here to instigate or start any problems,” organizer Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle. “Obviously we’re exercising our Second Amendment rights but that’s because we have to defend ourselves. Their organizations and their people are shooting people based on the color of their skin. We’re not. We definitely will defend ourselves, but we’re not out here to start any problems.”

The Confederate flag waved in front of the NAACP office Sunday, according to the media outlet. The rally attracted several onlookers, who took photos of the group as they held assault rifles and “White Lives Matter” signs on the Third Ward block.

“That’s a bold statement,” resident Quintina Richardson said. “You come into their home, front door, and say ‘hey!’ You’ve got some nerve.”

Reed said the flags were a symbol of Southern heritage.

“It has nothing to do with racism on our part,” he said. “We’re proud to be Southern. It has all to do about heritage, nothing to do with hate.”

Not soon after the group gathered, Black protesters and their allies held rallies of their own condemning the Confederate flag’s message.

Police began clearing the crowd of roughly 20 White Lives Matter protesters around 3:30 p.m. but some residents lingered. Some said they were angry that the protest was happening in their neighborhood.

“You going to arrest me now?,” one resident said to police. “Do we come to your neighborhoods? We’ve got no guns out here.”

Others joined in listing off recent officer-involved shootings that have claimed the lives of Blacks in recent weeks.

The last crowd to disperse was a group of African-Americans who were praying. They held hands as they convened in the parking lot of Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church. The building faces the NAACP building.