Black Lives Matter rally responds to ‘dangerous rhetoric’

Black Lives Matter spokeswoman Sonya Patrick leads a "black lives matter" chant at a rally Monday evening outside City Hall in downtown Wilmington.
Black Lives Matter spokeswoman Sonya Patrick leads a “black lives matter” chant at a rally Monday evening outside City Hall in downtown Wilmington.

The Black Lives Matter movement held a rally Monday evening on the steps of Thalian Hall in response to former Surf City police chief Mike Halstead’s Facebook rant against the movement earlier in September.

Organizer Cameron Parker said the event was to address Halstead’s “dangerous rhetoric” and the crowd of supporters who rallied around him after members of the Surf City Town Council asked Halstead to retire.

With about 30 participants Monday, the rally included prayer, Scripture reading and multiple speakers, who all slammed Halstead’s understanding of the reason and motivations of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Speaker Naseer El-Amin, who represents the organization Noo Covers and the Nation of Islam, said Halstead’s attempt to claim all lives matter is an attempt to dilute the message that black lives matter.

“In America, if all lives mattered, then there would be no need for us to have Black Lives Matter,” El-Amin said.

Organizers including Sonya Patrick and Cameron Parker reiterated statements at the rally that the movement was not anti-police, but anti-police brutality.

Halstead took to his personal Facebook page Sept. 3 following the shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Texas to say the Black Lives Matter movement is an American-born terrorist group “brought on by the lie of the hands up don’t shoot during the criminal thug Michael Brown incident.”

He went on to write about how he instructed his officers to remain vigilant and take appropriate action if threatened. “If that means shoot a thug, then do it and answer for it while you are still alive not dead,” he wrote.

The rally’s featured speaker, Minister Tyrone Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, addressed the deep roots of racism in America by talking about black history and slavery and how that contributes to racism existing today.

In response to Halstead’s words where he blamed the country’s current racial problems on the government, the president, and black leaders like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Eric Holder and Louis Farrakhan, Muhammad asked those at the rally to imagine what the race problems were like before those black leaders came onto the scene.

“We have always had a race problem in America and it didn’t stem from black leadership,” Muhammad said.

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