First and Second Amendment activists joined forces last weekend in Olmos Park, Texas to protest the local police department’s treatment of members of Open Carry Texas (OCT), a Texas gun rights group with more than 50,000 members.
Several members were arrested after carrying firearms in the city limits there.
The problems between OCT and Olmos Park Police started in January when an open carry activist Michael Thompson, who goes by the YouTube moniker SouthsideSlakr210, was detained for carrying a long gun within the city limits. He was carrying an AR 15. Find the video of that incident here.
Thompson was protesting an Olmos Park City ordinance that made the carrying of a loaded firearm illegal for everyone within the city limits, with the exception of law enforcement. The ordinance was contrary to the Texas law that allows the open carry of long guns without a license and open carry of hand guns with a permit.
The following week Jack Miller, who goes by the YouTube moniker TXSheepdog72, returned to Olmos Park to protest the way Thompson was treated. Miller was carrying the same AR-15 Thompson carried the week before. Police there quickly responded and after checking the magazine in the gun, they issued a misdemeanor citation to Miller for trespassing and with the carrying of a deadly weapon in a manner calculated to cause alarm.
Miller returned to town the following week to protest the open carry issue again. This time Miller was not only wearing a holstered hand gun, he was also carrying a sign that read, “Now Hiring – Olmos Park Police – Liars, Thieves, Cowards”. Police there responded to Miller’s protest with weapons drawn, demanding he drop the sign. He was ordered to the ground, handcuffed and detained.
Police loaded Miller into the back of a police unit but released him after verifying he had no warrants. Officers on scene offered no explanation as to their reasonable suspicion for the detainment, only telling Miller they were concerned about safety. Video of that incident can be found here.
Miller, who is not easily deterred, returned to Olmos Park again in March. This time he carried a holstered pistol while First Amendment Auditor, Joanna Castro, recorded his protest. Police showed up within minutes, guns drawn. Video Castro shot shows officer Albert Salinas approaching her while pointing an assault rifle at the activist. Salinas then order Castro to put the camera down and to back up before knocking the camera out of her hand and pushing her down.
Miller was ordered to the ground by a second officer, handcuffed and arrested. Video of the incident shows police picking a handcuffed Miller up, placing him in a police car and driving away without any explanation. That Video can be found here.
Last week the conflict between police and gun rights activists became even more intense when OTC President CJ Grisham and OTC member Jim Everard returned to the city and were arrested while open carrying a long gun and a hand gun. Grisham, who live streamed the interaction, was Tased from behind by Olmos Park Police Chief Rene Valenciano and suffered a head injury when he fell to the ground. The injury left him bleeding on the sidewalk.
Everard suffered a skull fracture and broken arm after Valenciano assaulted him while he was cuffed and lying face down on the sidewalk. Both men say they were refused medical attention by police officers including the chief, who sent first aid responders away after they arrived on scene. See video of that arrest here.
Oddly enough, Grisham had spoken to Valenciano only days before the arrest, announcing his visit and verifying the legality of open carry in the city. You can hear that phone conversation here.
Joanna Castro, who was one of several activist video recording Grisham and Everad’s arrest, was also arrested for a warrant issued by Olmos Park Police concerning the previous incident. She was charged with interfering with the duties of law enforcement. Castro has since filed a Federal Civil Rights Law Suit against the city.
The arrest of Grisham and Everard led OCT to plan the open carry rally April 7th. The arrest forced the city council there to call an emergency meeting to repeal their ordinance against carrying loaded firearms in the city. Other cities in the San Antonio area followed Olmos Park’s lead and repealed similar ordinances they had on the books as well.
The rally drew 500-600 gun rights activists and First Amendment activists to town and while San Antonio Police were on scene directing traffic, Olmos Park Police stayed in the shadows while the group walked through the city openly carrying long guns and pistols.
Residents of the area seemed to take the rally in stride, some of them even joining in the march around town. There were a handful of counter protesters at the rally as well though the event remained peaceful.
Follow Open Carry Texas here.
See video of the rally here.