The open-carry movement continues to spawn ridiculous posturing that can easily veer off into tragedy. One recent case involved an elderly white-haired man wearing what looks like pajamas scaring the daylights of people by walking on the sidewalk of a strip mall armed with what looks like some sort of assault rifle and talking about revolution. Several police cars, alerted by several callers expressing alarm at the sight, came and shut down the street and started negotiating with him and finally managed to get him to lay down his weapon.
The police handled the situation quite professionally, though their use of the jaywalking charge as an excuse to force him to identify himself illustrates how we are all in contravention of some law pretty much all the time and can be charged with committing some sort of offense if we are seen as a threat for any reason. The man got his gun back the next day.
But while watching the video, I thought of how differently the police might have reacted and how ugly things could have turned out if it had been a black (and young) man involved who talked of revolution and called the police ‘gang members’ with a ‘history of violence’.
Some people may recall the fuss that ensued when Malcolm X said in a speech in 1965 that “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” That last italicized phrase was seen as both a threat and an incitement to violence.