Donald Trump supporters are planning an armed demonstration to intimidate protesters when the Republican presidential candidate visits Pittsburgh for a town hall meeting and campaign rally.
A social media user posted the group’s plans about noon Tuesday on Reddit, saying at least 16 armed Trump supporters will form “roving support units” to stop protesters from forming road blocks, reported Pittsburgh City Paper.
“The majority of us will us will be open carrying sidearms and long arms (AR-15 style preferred, but AK’s and such are fine),” said user ElDuderino412. “This isn’t gonna be a place to mess around!”
The newspaper published a screenshot of the original post, which has apparently been deleted from the “Pittsburgh” subreddit, but the same Reddit user continued to discuss his plans for the open carry demonstration — which he said was intended primarily to prevent roadblocks.
That social media user complained that anti-Trump protesters were “paid to intimidate others and cause havoc” — and he issued several warnings about gun violence.
“I hope any ‘protestors’ who think it might be a good idea to pull some of the crap that we’ve seen done elsewhere remember Pennsylvania has a castle doctrine,” said the social media user, ElDuderino412. “I would not hold people against their will with illegal roadblocks or any other tactics.”
He said the law allowed gun owners to use deadly force if they were harmed or prevented from going about their lawful business, although ElDuderino412 conceded he was not an attorney.
“There are examples in history where people have been murdered in such roadblocks,” he posted. “It’s up to each individual to understand the laws on their own, I am not a lawyer. Kidnapping may be the wrong term, but if someone uses force to get away from one of these roadblocks consisting of people pounding on cars and such I would be very surprised to see charges brought upon someone in this state.”
Although that Reddit user’s comments were the most widely publicized, city officials said they had been monitoring numerous social media posts alluding to gun violence during the Trump visit.
“There’s a lot of chatter that’s out on social media,” said Mayor Bill Peduto. “Our police bureau and Department of Public Safety have been monitoring it since Monday. We want to make sure everybody is safe. We also want to guarantee that everyone has their First Amendment rights protected, which means that all of the different speeches, all of the different protests can happen. But they have to happen within the proper perimeters of keeping a city safe.
Trump will record a one-hour town hall hosted by Fox News broadcaster Sean Hannity about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, and then go on to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for a campaign rally at 7 p.m.
Police said they were aware of the social media gun threats and would monitor the credibility of those threats of violence ahead of Trump’s visit.
“We have developed a robust operational plan to ensure that we are prepared to deal with any emergency situations that might arise during the day and evening,” the police said in a statement. “We will be executing that plan with the same crowd management philosophy that we always use, which includes protecting constitutional rights.”
Administrators at the University of Pittsburgh, where Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall is located, said they were also aware of the threats and warned the open carry demonstrators were not permitted on campus.
“Pennsylvania law allows open carry on public property,” said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and chief of staff. “We expect that these demonstrators, if present, will abide by the law and remain off private property, which includes University of Pittsburgh campus areas.”
Watch this video report posted by WPXI-TV: