Open-carry gun right activists gathered in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday to hold a racially integrated march, meant to demonstrate the fact that Second Amendment rights are for the protection of all citizens, no matter their race. But only a dozen or so showed, and of them, only a few African Americans marched.
Reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Nov. 16: “Most of those who met at a pavilion at South Florissant Road and Suburban Avenue, then set off to march about three blocks to police headquarters, are white. But Paul Berry, an African-American gun owner from Bridgeton, who is considering a running as a Republican for the congressional seat now held by Democrat William Lacy Clay, attended and spoke about the importance of gun rights.”
Not many others did however, a fact not lost on the organizer of the event – Sam Andrews, a local gun shop owner and a former spokesman for Oath Keepers, a non-profit patriot movement that had a heavy presence in the city during the protests following the Michael Brown shooting and grand jury decision not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
“The police have so intimidated the black people that they don’t even believe they have rights,” Andrews, who is white, said. “That’s the problem. That’s why we’re here. So either way, we make the point.”
Andrews added that several local black residents have expressed a fear to open-carry in Ferguson, saying police would likely shoot them. “We intend to show that this right is not just for white people,” Andrews said prior to the event.
Oath Keepers also showed up for the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, but the heavily armed members met with a cool reception from both Black Lives Matter demonstrators and police. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at the time that the presence of Oath Keepers was “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”
While the heavily promoted march called the event a “historic” opportunity, local news station KPLR.com said the media members outnumbered the actual marchers. County Executive Steve Stenger criticized the event, stating that the open-carry activists are “inflaming a situation that is already inflamed.” According to reports, as few as two black men marched.
Open carry – the practice of openly carrying a licensed firearm in public – was made legal in Missouri in 2014, though many local shops have displayed signs stating that firearms are not allowed within their businesses.