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:
Crowd from above at the Richmond 2A protest @ABC7News 📸: @Hirschfeld4VA https://t.co/CZJQaWEJx0— Caroline Patrickis (@Caroline Patrickis)1579531982.0
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 https://t.co/ze2ZUYf0SR— Ned Oliver (@Ned Oliver)1579523708.0
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— Sleepy Hoe (@Sleepy Hoe)1579531033.0
Government ethics expert Walter Shaub offers this insight.
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. T… https://t.co/0MZuZJt37t— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1579535037.0
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.
There's a mob of white folks walking around the streets of Virginia with assault rifles, MAGA hats and trump flags… https://t.co/B7VCKa1IDk— Skoob 🇵🇦🇯🇲 (@Skoob 🇵🇦🇯🇲)1579530043.0
@andrewkimmel Imagine if a large group of black men with assault weapons and ski masks were marching in the VA capi… https://t.co/LglXVTIocB— kathmandu (@kathmandu)1579527747.0
Throwing a gun rally on #MLKDay isn't about 2nd amendment rights it's a sadistic attempt to derail #MLKDay and inti… https://t.co/Yi6Go2kxPF— CrazyLikeATiger (@CrazyLikeATiger)1579530803.0
Imagine if a group of black people lined up outside the capitol with guns 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/EGzgwj2deH— Terrence Everett (@Terrence Everett)1579529124.0
Don’t use MLK or any minority groups to promote your fear message. You all know damn well if those were majority bl… https://t.co/Tx4p9rZfAh— mariah 🎬 (@mariah 🎬)1579527978.0
In the 1960s, when the Black Panthers were the ones carrying guns, Republicans were much more sympathetic to gun co… https://t.co/tObwszGx9R— Max Boot (@Max Boot)1579531203.0
that history here https://t.co/uuJFOkmUjN— David Dayen (@David Dayen)1579530739.0
What’s happening in Richmond today is not only scary but also underscores that the cruelty is the point. If they ju… https://t.co/Bl7ep2VUrs— ilyseh (@ilyseh)1579529989.0