Verbatim reports from the field via FreeFor counterprotesters in opposition to Saturday’s union/fellow traveller demonstrations in Atlanta and Raleigh:
Gentlemen, here’s the accounting of saturday’s encounter. I’ll have to burn copies of the vids I already have and am meeting with James Brown (the guy who taped wednesday and saturday’s encounter) to get a copy of saturday’s encounter to add to ours.
Since we couldn’t let Wednesday’s SEIU counter demonstration by the Restore the Constitution group stand, we headed back out on Saturday to the move-on-dot-org protest. This time I was not only armed with my sidearm, but also a copy of SB-308 gun law signed by Governor Purdue back in April 2010. The night before the demonstration, I re-read the law just to be extra certain we were acting within the law.
Four of us ventured out to the Rally at high noon; three open carrying and one carrying a video camera. We were gratefully joined by a videographer who also taped Wednesday’s encounter. I’ll not mention his name because I’ve not asked for clearance to do so as of yet but let me assure you, we genuinely appreciate his talent and coverage of the encounters. Immediately upon arrival at the corner of MLK and Washington St., seemingly the corner of choice for counter demonstrators by Georgia Capitol Police, we were approached by a Capitol Police Officer who told us he couldn’t allow us to carry our sidearms there. I spoke up saying I’m glad he mentioned that because I had a copy of SB308 gun law that I’d like to show him to prove that is an unlawful order and low and behold, Lt. Mitchell walks up. I immediately greeted him, shook his hand and started discussing the situation. He commented that he knew we’d be back, by the way.
Before I go any further, I have the utmost respect for Lt. Mitchell; he’s a former Marine, a man of honor and integrity and has a difficult job to do. While his order was unlawful, he showed us the utmost respect. Bear in mind he gets his orders from those above too. Of course, Lt. Mitchell took the same stance as Wednesday night, saying we could not be on State Property, Capitol Grounds nor at a Rally with sidearms and had to leave. We also took the same stance as Wednesday night saying we were absolutely within the law and the constitution and offered to review SB-308 with him because our first and second amendment rights and the law were being violated by telling us to leave. He refused to look at the law stating this was not the time nor the place and we should make an appointment with management to discuss this. I countered with this is absolutely the time and the place because we were not leaving nor putting our sidearms in our cars.
We debated the situation for a good 45 minutes. I repeatedly mentioned sections of SB308, reiterating what we were doing was lawful and told Lt. Mitchell that we in contact with Congressmen Sean Jerguson and Tim Bearden (Chairman of the Public Safety Committee) who confirmed our action was legal. Both of these Congressmen have written and/or co-sponsored gun laws.
Somewhere around half way through, I stated we basically had two choices here; 1) let us return to peaceably demonstrating and exercising our first and second amendment rights or, 2) he could arrest us. The first officer we met, who was patiently standing by listening to the entire debate immediately motioned for a State Trooper standing across the street to come over and I thought we were about to get “hooked up.”. I quickly added that we would not resist, however there would be consequences should we be arrested. I told Lt. Mitchell we’d take legal action against him, the Capitol Police and the State of Georgia for violating our 1, 2 and 4th amendment rights and we’d seek criminal charges for kidnapping (unlawful arrest and detention) and theft because I doubt he’d let us keep our sidearms during all of this. I also added that I did not want to do that to him, but was prepared to do so. He asked me if I had any idea of how often he hears people say they were unlawfully arrested and I countered that I highly doubt those other’s had done their homework like I had. He also commented that he could lawfully remove the weapons and while the conversation drifted from this point, I’ll add here that he could legally collect the weapons only if we were breaking the law, which of course, we weren’t.
The good news is we didn’t get arrested, the State Trooper evidently had something better to do and left and the other Capitol Police Officer had to go on a call of some sort. As things were winding down, Lt. Mitchell said we should contact Capitol Police Division Director Captain Rhodes to discuss this. He also stated he had a copy of SB308 in his vehicle and while not admitting this, I’ll bet he’s brushing up on it. We also concurred that the Capitol Ground Rules require updating for two reasons; 1) SB308 was signed into law in April 2010 and the Ground Rules are dated 2008 and 2) I say the Ground Rules are unlawful.
I offered to go ahead and leave if Lt. Mitchell promised to attend the meeting I’m intent on coordinating. I’m not quite certain he agreed to this, however I hope he attends because he witnessed first hand our intent and our character and would provide valuable input into the meeting. As we were leaving, many of the moveondotorg people were leaving too so we pretty much attended the entire demonstration and accomplished our goal.
As a side note, someone from some Tea Party group came up and disavowed any connection to us. I have no clue who this was, however my comments to him are as follows. As a Tea Party member, I demand our government absolutely protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic and make laws that are constitutional. It so happens that SB308, while not perfect, closely adheres to the Constitution and we were not in violation of the law by open carrying at this rally. This shows the absolute, complete ignorance of this man about the law and the Constitution and as far as I’m concerned, he can lick the boots of his oppressors!
Rally in Ashville didn’t materialize, as Ashville Tea Party didn’t organize one so I went to Raleigh. Drive was about an hour shorter each way, so I guess that was for the better.
A few observations:
1) We had about 100-150 by my estimation, all from the local (read Central and Eastern NC) area. Our opposition had about 3 to 5 times that number, but when the out of state buses left with the “professional” protesters leaving only the local idiots, our numbers were equal.
2) We were angry, they were rabid. They used different forms of provocation, all without success. One of the most common was to send ultra rude, aggressive females over to our side of the street to stir up trouble. Whether this was simply rabid behavior or intentional, it was hard to tell. I suspect both.
3) They deployed a new tactic. They sent a female protestor to barge through our group from behind and then she charged that some of our people “assaulted” her by elbowing her. The police put that BS to bed fortunately, but they may not always do so.
4) Almost everyone I talked to there on our side knows that this was just a low pressure warm up for things to come. As such, the majority that I talked to are stockpiling food, ammo, etc. and, in fact, some are ahead of me in that area. It’s kind of funny talking to a 60 something year old lady who is pointing out the necessity of water storage and saying that the opfor has no clue about how bad things are about to get.
Based on this, I don’t feel quite as bad. We put up an OK number on relatively short notice. Most were 40 to 50 something with a fair number of 30 somethings, without so many elderly. The opfor’s age demo was only about 10 years younger than we were for the most part. When it goes south, we will be able to at least hold defensively in some areas, and, very possibly, will have a solid majority after the famine hits. (The previously mentioned lady thought that less than 1% of our opfor will survive the upcoming festivities).
UPDATE 28 FEB 2010 0060 EST: Another county heard from; see section 3.