A Report From Wednesday's Protests At The Georgia Capitol Building
From another participant:
We survived, however, see my account of what happened....
OK, now that I have a fresh mind (ha!) I'll expand on what happened. Our group, Restore the Constitution, decided to attend the SEIU counter protest on Wednesday, February 23… armed. We decided to test the water by openly carrying our sidearms and would then make a determination about the rifles thereafter. For those of you who don’t know, Georgians can open or conceal carry sidearms with a Georgia Firearms License (carry permit) and if you can legally own a firearm, you can carry a loaded rifle in an open manner. Please do not consider this as legal advice and thoroughly read and understand all of Georgia’s gun laws before carrying a weapon of any kind. Legal disclaimer ends…
Georgia SB-308 revised Georgia gun law to allow, at least, these two things; 1) you can open or conceal carry at a rally and 2) you can carry on state property, just not buildings where judges, congress critters, jails and similar buildings. I read the Georgia "capitol ground rules" and while they violate Georgia Law, they state you can't be on capitol grounds with a weapon. So, we spot up across the street from the capitol with the rest of the Tea Party people. A couple of guys in our RTC group approached LEO and were told we can't carry on Capitol ground, which we weren't.
I was approached by Lt. Mitchell of the Capitol Police and Ben James of Georgia Department of Public Safety and told I couldn't carry a gun where I was standing because 1) you can’t carry weapons to a rally and 2) I was on state property. I corrected the officers by citing both of their reasons for telling me to leave were stricken from GA law with the passing and signing of SB308 and they were giving me an illegal order. At one point during the “debate” I lowered my right arm, which GDPS Officer James thought was a move toward my gun and grabbed my wrist and told me not to go for the gun. I quickly corrected him saying I was not doing such a thing and that I would be one of those who would come to his aide, should he ever need it and not one to draw a gun on LEO. We then discussed the capitol ground rules that state no weapons were allowed on capitol grounds. While this is an illegal rule, we were abiding by it. However, Lt. Mitchell, in his infinite power, expanded the capitol grounds boundary well over two blocks from where the rally was. So, to “play nice” we went all the way to Atlanta Underground.
Wile at Atlanta Underground area, we decided to bring out the rifles and set up our banners and flags. Interestingly, we must have been right next to the Sheriff’s office or something because at least 8-10 deputies walked to the parking garage we were standing by and we just exchanged pleasantries and not one mention was made about the guns. Shortly before we were packing up to leave, Atlanta PD stopped by to question what we were doing. We briefed them on how the Capitol Police chased us down to where we were while protesting. The officer acknowledged what I said and reported to dispatch via radio what was going on. We’re assuming someone called 911. As a side note, EVERY encounter the RTC group has had with APD has been nothing but positive.
Another side note, Georgia State Representative Sean Jerguson, co-sponsor of SB308, was mingling in the Tea Party crowd. He stated two things; 1) the officers were completely wrong and he was going to speak with the Chief of Capitol Police and 2) he appreciated the manner in which w conducted ourselves, utilizing the new law and not getting in the face of LEO. The last thing we need is an altercation between law abiding gun carriers and LEO.
To sum things up:
1) GA State Capitol ground rules violate GA gun law
2) Our 1st amendment rights were violated by Lt. Mitchell and Officer James, see bold test below
3) Our 2nd amendment rights were violated by Lt. Mitchell and Officer James, see bold test below
This will not end here. I’m considering legal action against the Georgia Capitol Police, Georgia Department of Public Safety and whomever makes the Capitol ground rules for violating our constitution rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Supplemental from CA:
A Captain Boyd (?) of the Capitol Police advised me that he would not identify who in Georgia State Government gave what he described as the order that "no rifles will be allowed" in the capitol area. Captain Boyd refused to appear on camera, and refused my repeated requests for a Public Information Officer, claiming that none were available on a business weekday with massive local media coverage of a major demonstration.
At your protests this weekend, folks, bring paper, pen, and lots of cameras.
Document, document, document.
Call them on their lies.