It’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and for several hours now countless mostly white, mostly male pro-gun, anti-gun control activists have been marching throughout the streets of Richmond, Virginia, claiming to merely be exercising their Second Amendment rights. Many appear to be dressed in military garb, including camouflage, masks, and donning various types of firearms over their shoulders or at their side.
Some Virginians have been so concerned about the possibility of violence that Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and banned guns from the capitol. His ban survived a state supreme court challenge. Some say the ban does not appear to have been enforced.
Thousands are marching, including some white nationalists, far-right militia members, anti-government extremists, and neo-Nazis. As NBC News reports, members of some of those groups from across the country have been planning on attending.
To get a sense of scale here’s a photo from an ABC reporter:
Many online noted the reception from pro-gun advocates might be far different if the activists were Black instead of white, given the nation’s history – and that of Virginia.
The Virginia Mercury’s Ned Oliver posted this video at 7:35 AM:
Here's a line of heavily armed rally attendees outside the VA Capitol pic.twitter.com/ze2ZUYf0SR
— Ned Oliver (@nedoliver) January 20, 2020
One social media user asked, “Can you imagine a group of black men walking around with masks and guns?”
Can you imagine a group of black men walking around with masks and guns? https://t.co/aI9fwe6nTi
— Pariah Carey (@weekend3warrior) January 20, 2020
Government ethics expert Walter Shaub offers this insight.
Imagine how Fox News would cover this if these guys weren’t white. Imagine what Trump would tweet. Imagine how much danger they’d be in. But these guys are allowed to silence counter protesters by showing up armed to the teeth after some of their allies have threatened violence. https://t.co/scmDaodgku
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) January 20, 2020
Days ago President Trump essentially endorsed the rally in a tweet and then did so again minutes ago.
The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2020
Some are asking questions like, “Imagine if Black folks just decided to have a ‘gun rally’ like this.”
Take a look at these responses from social media users.
— CrazyLikeATiger (@groundedsince87) January 20, 2020
I’m only leaving my apartment for the gym today and already the amount of confederate flag shit I’m seeing for these guns rights people is ridiculous. I’m only commenting so gun nuts will stop the dishonest framing of this issue as an act to protect Black people.
— AdenWare (@AdenWare) January 20, 2020
In the 1960s, when the Black Panthers were the ones carrying guns, Republicans were much more sympathetic to gun control. A total coincidence I'm sure. https://t.co/7ELwGC6hmD
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) January 20, 2020
that history here https://t.co/uuJFOkmUjN
— David Dayen (@ddayen) January 20, 2020
What’s happening in Richmond today is not only scary but also underscores that the cruelty is the point. If they just wanted to advance an argument on gun rights, they wouldn’t do it on #MLKDay. The miss being able to openly terrify people, especially black people. #richmondrally https://t.co/Koc8EYoRit
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) January 20, 2020
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