UPDATED: According to the Facebook event page this event had been “postponed” due to a “scheduling conflict” with another Open Carry rally.
In what they say is an effort to “show that gun rights belong to all” members of the open carry movement will walk through the 5th Ward on Sunday — a day after many Texans will be celebrating Juneteenth, in a predominantly African American area of Houston settled by former slaves just after the Civil War. The Facebook event claims the event will be a “canned food drive” and donations will be given to the “First Missionary Baptist Church.”
The walk is being hosted by CJ Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas, who was convicted of interfering with police duties over an incident where he was being questioned about his AR-15. The resulting conviction led to no jail time and he plans to appeal, but he was fined $2,000 and lost his concealed handgun license for 5 years. One does not need a license to open carry a long gun.
I called the 5th Ward Missionary Baptist Church which is only blocks from where the walk is poised to begin this Sunday and they had no idea about the event and assumed that I was either mistaken or contacted the wrong church — the latter is certainly possible since I could not locate a “First Missionary Baptist Church” in the 5th Ward.
Either way the sentiment is understandable since most open carry demonstrations have been in highly visible suburban to upper-middle class parts of towns near or in major chain establishments. Even before receiving admonishment from the NRA over their “weird” behavior (that was quickly retracted) Open Carry Texas had encouraged its members to stop entering commercial business without first letting them know if their plans. This came after major setbacks as chain after chain reconfirmed their no gun policies.
This walk will certainly be a departure from other highly publicized events. It is unclear how many will march but pictures by some of those expected to attend show members mocking the area's Congressional Woman Sheila Jackson Lee are not exactly friendly to the community. One shows a man in front of her office with a sign that reads “Gun Control = Slavery Sheila Jackson Lee Supports Slavery” and caption that read “Queen Sheila ran for the hills,” and another simply shows a man eating a piece of fried chicken in front of her office.
SJL represents the 5th Ward and those racially charged images don't do much by way of challenging the narrative that the open carry movement is dominated by right-wing white male. One participant at a rally in Dallas told a reporter that one reason there wasn't more diversity was because black people, “are afraid to carry rifles because they're afraid of being shot by police.”
I suspect it may because of the Neo-Confederate attitude by some of its members. One man who is slated to attend the 5th Ward walk complained on his Facebook page the media only cared about the Trayvon Martin story because he was black adding that this is why,
“…white people think that most young blacks are just thug a$$ed pieces of $hlt! Prison and home life are no different for most of them. You go to prison, you still eat for free, free cable, free roof over your head, free gym membership, free……there is really no punishment for them. Going to prison will not change their lives, just their address.”
Now he plans to go to those addresses and show off his guns. But if he already believes they are getting free food why not donate arms instead?
Here is the event page for the 5th Ward open carry walk.
You can follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.