Photo Essay, from May 1, 2015


#BlackLivesMatter meets #OpenCarry

April Morris, 25-year-old lesbian from Dallas: “I’m here for justice!”

Cindy Meyers of Dayton, Ohio, in Dallas to visit her grandaughter, came outside of her hotel so her granddaughter could watch the protest.

When I asked Cindy how she and the little girl were related I was told emphatically “she’s my Nana!” Cindy smiled: “I’m her Nana. I heard about the protest and brought her out and explained to her what was going on. Honestly, I really think that the police have gone too far. [granddaughter — “I think it’s unfair!”] It’s unfair. I just think that they use their power more than they need to. I mean I’m grateful when they’re around and I need help or if I would need help, but some of the stuff they do is just uncalled for, it doesn’t make sense. I mean I get it, if the police are in trouble and they’re trying to protect themselves.”

A man who said he was homeless and didn’t give his name interjected:

“ — hey, this is somethin man, the police here, just stay a couple days and just look, they go out of their way to mess with the homeless people, am I lying? They’ll lock a homeless man and lie on him, say he been drinking and he aint had a drink before. This is sad.”

Cindy: “It is sad. But, I also have to say that I think that people in Baltimore have, I don’t want to say overreacted, but they just need to calm down and let it, let it play out, because the cops were wrong — the cops were wrong. . . . I don’t know if you saw, in Dayton, Ohio, when they shot that kid in Wal-Mart, that’s right down the street from me, and I was like whoa!”
Homeless man: “— you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Cindy: “I think it’s gonna get a lot worse, I do.”

Thomas Ballard, with the open carry movement “Don’t Comply”:

“I’m here out of support, and also to protect people’s First Amendment rights, and also to protect private property. We don’t want another Ferguson, another Baltimore where they’re rioting, destroying public property or private property. The LA riots, the only part of town that wasn’t looted and rioted was the Asian side because they were all armed! They protected their stores, their property, and none of the rioters went and screwed with them. So we’re just here to make sure none of that happens. If any of that occurs we’ll come in between the property and the people that’re trying to destroy and vandalize. I support the police, it’s like one apple spoils the bunch. You hear stories where one good cop stands up to one bad cop and the good cop gets disciplined. I understand why people got mad in Ferguson and Baltimore but it didn’t justify the looting and the burning, but I have a whole ‘nother segue that I don’t want to get into, the raconteurs want to get a riot started to get full martial law, because we’re already in soft martial law right now. The police are getting all this militarized gear and it’s a soft form of martial law and if you notice it’ll kind of spike, in Katrina they took everybody’s gun regardless of who you were, took your guns. In Ferguson, lock down. Boston bombing — lock down. Door to door to door, no search warrants, no nothing, that’s martial law. I’m most worried about another Nazi Germany. Everything Hitler did was legal because he made it law.”

Tammy Koontz, with Don’t Comply:

“We’re actually here in support of these guys. We are practicing our First Amendment right to protest against police brutality, we just have to do it with the Second, we believe the Second Amendment protects all the rest. Our main concern is to protest police brutality,we think they overreach, so we’re out here to help with that. We’re here to keep the peace, yes, we want to make sure that the police officers aren’t causing trouble, as well as any crazy rioters. We’ve had some people who’ve taken our words and turned them around, we’re not here to shoot anybody, but we want to make sure that our city is protected as well — we don’t want things getting burned down or tore up. We’re here to show ‘em how to do a peaceful protest and we can do that with guns.

“I grew up Pentecostal but I converted to Buddhism about ten years ago. You know Gandhi even said, if someone fires at you with a gun pick up your gun and shoot back. We’re seriously here to show that we can do a peaceful protest with our firearms. We’re tired of the police, they get, we get a lot of police attention because we open carry and a couple of our guys have been thrown to the ground and dragged through the capitol and arrest and spent weekends in jail over our Second Amendments [sic].”

Matthew Shorts:
“We come as a third party. There were several instances in Baltimore where people protected their business by practicing open carry in front of their stores. Stores got looted on either side of them but they didn’t loot the stores where people were standing there protecting their property. We come in solidarity of the people being able to protect themselves and we’re educating the public.”

AZZ Zulu: “I’m here to support the rallies to support what’s going on in Baltimore, and I’m actually really here, I want the Dallas police department to know that we’re not taking it. I’m one person that’s not taking it, I’m from Oakland, California originally, I’m an original Black Panther and I’m here to support my people and everybody here of all colors. I live here now in Texas, 32 years. I joined back in the ‘70s, been with it ever since.”

Isaac Cherry of Sti740 “Youth Sports & Education Talk With Issac Cherry”:
“I’m here to get some interviews of some of the people here, basically doing what you’re doing. We’re here because we’re actually linked up with the police, OCCPAL, Operation Community Care, a police activity league, and what we’re doing is trying to get the type of people that’s at this parade to start trusting the police more. I’m the host of Sti740, and it came to be that we were looking at things and the police and how everything is really messed up between the police and the community so what we’re doing, we’re like trying to get more people to come back to the police, trust them, because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who save our lives. Not saying that every cop is a good one, but there’s 90% of good cops and 10% bad, what we’re trying to do is get rid of that 10%. Trying to talk with the DA, the chiefs, and having daily dialogue, stuff like that.”

As Tiersa McQueen and her husband and four children walked by Tammy Koontz and her other open carry friends, Tammy saw the look of alarm on Tiersa’s face and said, loudly, “we’re here to support you!” I asked Tiersa a few minutes later about the exchange: “They have the right to carry their guns. This is the world my kids are living in so they’re gonna have to see things like that. The reason why we’re here is because I can’t protect, I have three black boys I’m raising — and a black girl, not to leave her out, because they’re killing black girls too — so I can’t protect them from the things that are happening. So that’s why we come here to be around a rally with people that are like-minded so we can try to make a difference. I don’t want them to keep having to come to rallies — I don’t want my kids to be 34 like I am and come to more rallies for their children, I want to get this done and over with right now. So, yeah, the guns make me nervous, but I’m nervous for my kids anyway. They’re black kids.
Last year we went to the Mike Brown rally that they had, and that same day we went, my husband was detained by police for no reason —I put it on Youtube:

“But it didn’t get any traction. At the train station, my kids saw that and they were crying, but they don’t care, they pushed him against the wall and everything like that, so, we have to try to do something about this. We can’t just tweet and think that that’s going to do something. We have to raise them to know that when there’s injustice you have to come and do something about it.”

for “Part II, A Companion Piece,” click here.

for “Part II, A Companion Piece,” click here.