Updates on Events Planned for the Weekend of 'The Gathering of the Great Armies" Juneteenth Black National Unity Convention
NewBlackNationalism.com is monitoring events on the ground for three-day celebration of Juneteenth 2022 in Brookhaven, Jackson and Natchez, Mississippi.
NATCHEZ — Nick Bezzel said the Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt Gun Club of Central Texas Abides by the Law
Bezzel, the leader of that gun club, has organized a series of events for Friday and Sunday in Natchez to commemorate what he calls the Black Holocaust at the Devil’s Punchbowl and Juneteenth. He has invited other armed groups to join in.
A Juneteenth Family Day at the Park his group plans on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Broadmoor Park drew the concern of some on the Adams County Board of Supervisor recently, who pointed out no guns are allowed in any county park.
“They are coming here in peace. I don’t have a problem with that,” said District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray at the board’s May 17 meeting. “But they are going to our parks and all our kids are out there. Then, when they leave, our kids will think it is OK to go to that park and bring their guns. That’s not the message you send into a neighborhood, that it’s OK to bring your guns to the park.”
“If that’s the law, that’s the law. We are law-abiding citizens,” Bezzel said. He said his group would not take their guns into the park.
“As a side note, I do want to address a statement that was made by one of the county commissioners … that the children don’t need to see us bring guns to the park because children will also feel is it is OK to bring their guns to the park. If children are bringing guns to a park, that’s not an issue with us. That’s an issue internally. If kids are bringing guns to a park, that’s not us. Your issue is not with us. His language should be directed to someone else, not us,” Bezzel said.
He said the party at Broadmoor Park will include more than a dozen local food vendors and others selling their products, will offer music and a DJ, will feature a jumpy house and water slide for children. The party will begin at 2 and end at 8 p.m.
“Everybody is welcome to come and enjoy the festivities,” he said. “This is generating money for the people of Natchez. We will have a positive economic impact.”
The first event the group plans in Natchez is Mississippi on the Move: Town Talk, a town hall meeting at the Broadmoor Utilities Community Center, 61 E. Wilderness Road. 6 p.m. on Friday night.
Other events are planned for Jackson on Saturday, but Bezzel and his group will return to Natchez on Sunday morning.
At 10 a.m. at the Natchez National Cemetery, the group will gather to commemorate the Devil’s Punchbowl, where they say 20,000 newly freed slaves were killed by Union troops.
At noon, the Gathering of the Great Armies Formation will begin.
“Black self-defense movements from around the country will unite to take place in this armed march in recognition of those lost to the Devil’s Punchbowl,” an advertisement reads.
Bezzel said the armed group, which he thinks will be 1,000 strong, will march from the Natchez National Cemetery on Cemetery Road to Maple Street, to New Street, to West Oak Street, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, to Main Street, to North Canal Street to the Natchez City Auditorium.
He expects members of the original Black Panther Party and the New Black Panther Party to participate.
“We are open to all organizations who would like to participate,” Bezzel said. “I want to be clear and clarify some things that may have people nervous. Ask yourself, can you find on record any instance that any of these groups went somewhere and committed an act of violence?
“If we were coming with any type of bad intentions, we would not be advertising that we were coming. If we were coming for disruption, why would we announce what we are doing? Why would be apply for all of these permits? Why would be have purchased insurance? This is to show we are law-abiding citizens who are working to do the right thing.
“We are working to empower people economically. We have job placement companies coming to try to help some of these young men and women find meaningful employment. We want to be able to help people in Natchez and Mississippi,” Bezzel said.
Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said he and others in local law enforcement and government have had numerous conversations with Bezzel.
“I do not think they are coming here to cause problems in the community or anything like that. I think they are coming to educate people on responsible gun ownership,” Patten said.
However, the sheriff said Bezzel and his group have been told clearly where law enforcement stands on their activities in Natchez.
“The sheriff’s department, the police department, and a lot of supporting agencies have put in a lot of man-hours and done a lot of planning to make sure this is a safe event and it does not in any way interrupt the unity of our community,” Patten said.
Gun club leader calls for accountability in Gibson case with marches in Brookhaven
BROOKHAVEN — MS About 30 people with the Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt Pistol & Rifle Gun Club, Black Panther Party and New Black Panther Party crisscrossed the city of Brookhaven on Friday in pursuit of justice for D’Monterrio Gibson.
They started at Bicentennial Park before driving to the Lincoln County Courthouse. Once there, armed gun club members stood on the sidewalk while the gun club president Nick Bezzell went in to talk with District Attorney Dee Bates. After a couple of minutes, Bezzel left the office and gave an impromptu statement to a documentary team and others gathered around.
“This DA said he would be here, and then he leaves. He knew all of us were coming to town,” Bezzel said. “It tells me he doesn’t care, and we have to ramp up patrols and pressure until we get justice.”
Bezzel coordinated the “Say His Name” event in Brookhaven as part of the club’s “Devil’s Punchbowl National Formation” weekend, which continues through Sunday and coincides with national Juneteenth events. The weekend features events in Jackson, including town hall meetings on street violence; the Brookhaven event on Friday; and a march and rally on Sunday in Natchez to commemorate the deaths of thousands of Black Americans at the Devil’s Punchbowl during the Civil War.
Bezzel said earlier this week he was coming to Brookhaven to seek answers about the prosecution of two white men charged with assaulting Gibson in January. The club president had stated publicly he wanted to meet with the District Attorney.
Bezzel said he received a phone call from Bates Friday morning, and Bezzel told him when he expected to be in Brookhaven. Bezzel said the men agreed to meet in person, but Bates left.
In a call later Friday, Bates said this was not true. He said he called Bezzel and said he had a meeting at the crime lab in Jackson for a trial this week. Bates waited until 1:30 p.m. before leaving for Jackson and returned to Brookhaven by about 5:15 p.m.
After leaving the county courthouse, the group drove across town to the Brookhaven Police Department on US 51. Once there, Bezzell led a group into the police department’s lobby and asked to speak with Police Chief Kenneth Collins, Assistant Chief Chris Case and Police Captain Clint Earls. They were all unavailable.
Bezzel was frustrated and said the police department was dodging the group.
“There has to be a citizens patrol conducted here in Brookhaven to police the police. Someone has to watch them do their job,” Bezzel said. “If police are not competent, then the citizens need to organize, and that is what it looks like they will need to do here. We can help set that up and how to conduct oversight. Hopefully the goal is to get funding from the county to get an oversight office here in the city and the county.”
Next, Gibson led a march down Junior Trail NE off New Sight Road, where he was shot at while trying to make deliveries.
According to reports, Gibson had delivered a package to an incorrect address on Junior Trail NE and retrieved it from a residence. That is when Gregory Case, 58, attempted to block Gibson’s truck from leaving by using his own vehicle while Brandon Case, 35, stood in the road with a firearm. Gibson pulled his delivery vehicle past both men, who pursued him as far as I-55 with the younger Case reportedly shooting repeatedly into the vehicle.