On May 6, a white man and a black man conducted a high-risk experiment. The two pro-gun, open carry supporters walked the streets of their neighborhoods with the exact same type of gun — an AR 15 — slung over their backs. They both live in places where it’s legal to open carry, and they both got stopped by police.
That’s where their similarities end. It’s awfully strange how the NRA-sponsored GOP loves open carry — and law enforcement tolerates it — but not when black people do it.
The two men each went on their open carry strolls as someone followed with a video camera. The videos — which they spliced together and shared on Live Leak — show encounters with police that are disturbingly different.
The video first shows the white man — who hails from the state of Oregon and posts lots of YouTube videos of his open carry adventures under his Marked Guardian handle — getting approached by a cop. The police officer clearly dislikes the AR 15, demands Marked Guardian’s I.D., and asks a few questions. Marked Guardian refuses to give the officer his ID, explaining that open carry is perfectly legal in their state. And that’s it.
If you search “Open Carry” on YouTube, you’ll see oodles of tense but ultimately peaceful interactions like this, because these mostly white people often record their walks and their interactions with police. What we don’t see as often is what happens to black people who open carry.
The video switches over to the black man sauntering down the street with his perfectly legal AR 15. When the police come, they don’t bother asking him any questions, they just pull out their guns and order him to drop his weapon and lie prone on the ground or they’ll shoot. Who cares if open carry’s legal, they’ll detain him anyway. Seconds later, there are two police cars and three cops with guns drawn as the fourth takes the black man into custody.
Now, this writer harbors a strong revulsion towards the open carry movement and guns in general. Nonetheless, this black man was open carrying an AR 15, which is LEGAL in his state and which he was not pointing at anyone or waving around threateningly or doing anything different than what the white man was doing. Yet the cops threatened him with their guns, forced him to the ground, called another squad car for help, and then illegally detain him.
There’s something seriously wrong with open carry being legal, but there’s something even more seriously wrong with black open carry activists getting abused and detained illegally while their white counterparts walk away Scot-free.
Watching this video is almost enough to make you wonder whether open carry is justified in some communities, and that’s a scary thing. You’d think that communities of color would have more reason to fear police and embrace open carry than white folks, but try explaining that to a bunch of paranoid white tea baggers.
This Is Not The First Time Cops Discriminated Against Black Open Carry Activists.
White liberal folks (including this writer) love to tar the open carry movement with the viscous brush of racism, but in some cases, it’s more complicated than that. Last September Hell’s Saints, a mixed-race open carry group from Michigan, raised a hullabaloo after a black member got arrested for open carrying in Detroit. Naturally, he was the only one who got arrested. At the time, this writer was unable to get the standard police report information because Detroit’s GOP-run “Emergency Manager” has privatized all the record-keeping and not only requires a fee (which this writer would have paid), but requires you to come to the Detroit Police Dept.’s main office in person.
Here’s the video with the sharp and disturbing contrast between the white and the black open carry activists’ encounters with police in Oregon — a state in which open carry is perfectly legal.
Follow-Up With Sources For The Above Open Carry Video.
This writer had a deadline and had to run this story with the information available at the time. Since videos often get posted, shared, re-posted, spliced, and shared again, it’s often hard to track down the original sources. Luckily, Facebook commenters are chock full of helpful information.
This experiment is not exactly scientific, as many of you have have pointed out. The incidents shown happened at different times and in different locations. Others also mentioned that the position of the black man’s AR 15, slung alongside his hip instead of over his back, may have provoked the police officer. Still, given what we see in the news headlines every day, it is hard to see how an encounter between police and a black man open carrying could have ended any differently than this.
The footage from the first part of the above open carry video was taken by a YouTube user with the handle Compilation Director in March, 2013. It features Warren — also known as MarkedGuardian — from Oregon. As for the second half, the original open carry video was uploaded to YouTube on August, 2013 by Gabriel Nobels. His wife, then seven months pregnant, followed him with the camera as he walked the streets of Sun Valley, Nevada with his AR 15.
Correction notice: An earlier version of this post lumped law enforcement in with the “NRA-sponsored GOP” that “loves “open carry. Obviously, that is not true. Anyone who has watched the numerous open carry videos showing confrontations with police (as this writer has) knows that people in law enforcement do not seem fond of open carry at all, though they are forced by law to tolerate it. In February, the Dallas News reported that a survey of 200 police officers in Texas — ground zero for the open carry movement — revealed that 75 percent oppose open carry. This writer regrets the error.