Today at around noon six individuals set up flags and signs on an overpass over U.S. Highway 50 in Warrensburg, Missouri, expressing a variety of sentiments in opposition to President Obama and his administration. One sign made reference to Benghazi, several signs referred to constitutional issues, and one sign addressed guns. At least one of the demonstrators was openly carrying a firearm.
Interestingly, of the two individuals holding flags (and there were several flags to choose from) both chose to hold the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, not the U.S. flag, nor the Gadsden flag.
Driver of a passing car: [shouted, while gesturing at the demonstrators] Idiots!
Show Me Progress: So, what kind of response are you getting today?
Demonstrator: It’s positive. We normally, uh, we’re with Overpasses for America. Uh, we’re a national organization and, uh, we normally get a very positive response from people. Uh, now and then you might get some people that have some animosity towards us, but normally it’s, uh, positive, so. [horn honking]
Show Me Progress: So, um, uh, are you from this area?
Demonstrator: Uh, [….] from, uh, this area. I’m from Kansas City.
Show Me Progress: Uh, huh.
Demonstrator: Uh, I think the rest of them are from Warrensburg.
Show Me Progress: Uh, okay. Uh, so [horn honking], um, why out here today, just…?
Demonstrator: Well, we, we go all over the state. Like I said, we’re national, and right now I’m, uh, uh, [….] and I are having this, uh, right here in Warrensburg. We come down here periodically. We just want to make sure that we have plenty of exposure for people to see us, or organization, and know that we’re out here and we’re protesting against this present administration, the, uh, criminal activities that they’re doing, not following our Constitution.
Demonstrator: ….Police officers in the area are usually real receptive to us. They watch for us, make sure that nobody harasses us or bothers us.
Show Me Progress: They tend to, they tend to do that no matter what anybody’s point of view [cross talk] is.
Demonstrator: Well, you’re [crosstalk] right.
Show Me Progress: And they’re really, real good about that because [crosstalk]…
Demonstrator: Well, not always.
Show Me Progress: Oh, really?
Demonstrator: I’ve been in places where we’ve had problems…
Demonstrator:…And, uh, if we don’t exercise our rights we’re gonna lose them. And that’s what we’re out here doing.
Uh, if you’re relying on the local police to protect you from harassers and botherers, why open carry? The First Amendment is a two way street, right? Just asking.
In the several hundred vigils, demonstrations and protest marches I attended starting in 2003 I don’t ever recall a participant openly carrying a firearm. I do recall cooperative law enforcement officials working to ensure peaceful demonstrations in which participants could safely exercise their First Amendment rights. I also vividly recall harassers and botherers, most who didn’t cross the line.
So, where were today’s folks twelve years ago? Right…