Gun lovers parade with firearms to protest arrest of black open-carry activist
A Michigan gun rights group protested the arrest earlier this month of an open-carry activist in Detroit.
About 20 men and women carrying firearms walked Sunday afternoon along a commercial boulevard to the Detroit Police Department Northeast Precinct to protest the arrest of their fellow member of Hell’s Saints, reported MLive.
Elijah Woody, who is black, was charged Sept. 13 with carrying a concealed weapon without a license, but he claims police saw his legal open-carry display and arrested him within 15 seconds.
Police said Woody smelled strongly of marijuana and was wearing an oversize jacket that coverd his gun.
Sgt. Michael Woody, who is not related to the gun activist, said a marijuana blunt was found near the scene of Woody’s arrest.
The officer said Woody’s jacket was tucked behind the handgun, but it folded over the weapon and illegally concealed it.
The founder of Hell’s Saints – who believes the charges are racially motivated – was invited last week to meet with police, who showed him a video of Woody’s arrest.
Open-carry activist James Baker said he could not tell from the video whether Woody broke the law, but he said police were helpful and transparent during the meeting.
“I want to make sure we can work together on this and if there is a problem, there is some kind of wrongdoing, I would like them to solve this,” the 22-year-old Baker said. “I don’t want to have to play hardball, I want us all to be able to work together.”
Chief James Craig disputed claims that the arrest was due to Woody’s race, nothing all three officers in the case were also black.
Woody, who faces up to five years in prison, remains under house arrest but was permitted to attend the march with his attorney, who was carrying a weapon.
“The Detroit Police Department has a history of not really respecting the rights of people to open carry,” said attorney Jim Makowski. “I think this makes it clear, assuming the facts lie as I believe they will, that the Detroit Police Department truly needs that supervision. They don’t care what the law is and they don’t like open-carry, and they are going to abuse people for exercising their rights.”
The police department recently came out from under federal oversight due to previous civil rights violations.
Two police cars drove alongside the group on its three-mile march to the police station, where the demonstrators posed for a photo.
Woody asked one of the police officers why they accompanied the marchers, and the officer told him they had received several calls from concerned residents.
The group marched back to the Family Dollar store where the demonstration began and served up bowls of chili to participants.
“All we have is chili and a lot of guns,” Baker said.