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“Armed Intimidation Isn’t Peaceful Protest,” Brady Denounces Extremists For Disrupting Michigan Legislature

Washington, D.C., May 1, 2020 - Today, Brady denounces the actions of armed extremists who entered the Michigan State House to undermine our democratic systems by intimidating lawmakers. Brady joins with numerous other national groups and elected officials in this condemnation and calls on all Americans to join in this call to reject extremism and hate.

Yesterday, a small group of heavily-armed individuals broke off from a protest outside of the Michigan State House, entering the State House and intimidating lawmakers. Though protest signs are not allowed, Michigan law permits open carry in its State House. These extremists seized upon this law using a tactic long pushed by gun extremists, carrying visible military-style weapons to terrorize lawmakers and to suppress opposing opinions. Though vocal, these extremists do not represent the majority of Michiganders.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“Brady unequivocally denounces the actions of armed protestors who entered the Michigan State House yesterday. We must be clear: these are extremists using tactics intended to terrorize. Firearms are not needed to express disagreement with policies, but they can intimidate, suppress contrary views, and make law enforcement's job more difficult and dangerous.

All elected officials and concerned citizens should denounce these actions. Sadly, though unsurprisingly, we have seen the occupant of the highest office in the country do the opposite, echoing his infamous description of white supremacists in Charlottesville by characterizing these protestors as “very good people” in a tweet.

President Trump should denounce these actions, but we know that he will not. Instead he will continue to echo the rhetoric and misinformation of the gun lobby, which has promoted a corrupted and inaccurate interpretation of the Second Amendment that falsely claims a right to bear arms against the government - dangerous rhetoric routinely seen from organizations such as the NRA. Yesterday’s actions are a direct result of the gun lobby’s decades-long effort and President Trump’s continued parroting of this false and dangerous rhetoric that undermines the very rule of law that he is charged with defending.

Individuals who weaponize the Second Amendment fly against the intent of the Framers and the Constitution. The Second Amendment was intended to protect “well-regulated militias” that could maintain order, the opposite of taking up arms against the government. To purport otherwise twists the words of our Constitution, ignores our country’s history and erodes Americans’ most fundamental freedom – the right to live. We should not have to tell the President this, but guns should not be used to intimidate, silence, or coerce Americans or political leaders.

Peaceful protests involve a citizenry armed with facts, not extremists brandishing weapons to intimidate and harass elected officials.”

Brady Legal Constitutional Litigation Counsel Kelly Sampson shared:

“As a black woman, a lawyer, and a Detroit native, I am horrified by images of extremists, armed with assault-style weapons, menacing state police and intimidating lawmakers in their place of work. This is counter to our democratic principles and the rule of law. Would-be insurrectionists have no place in a functioning democracy, regardless of their color. Even so, yesterday’s measured response proves a fundamental truth: belligerent, armed, white people can, and do, expect to receive better treatment than peaceful, unarmed, black people in America.

The reaction to these protests underscores that our country’s continuing racial oppression and segregation colors the way we view guns. These extremists shouted in the face of police officers while armed with military-grade weapons in a clear effort to intimidate lawmakers. The result was that they were calmly asked to leave and denied entry to the House chamber. Our history shows that a group of black protestors, acting similarly and likewise armed, would not have been treated similarly. While roughly 79 percent of Michigan’s gun homicide victims are Black, we comprise only 15 percent of the state’s population. Just as gun violence does not affect all Michiganders equally, our society does not view weapons in the hands of black and brown Americans in the same way.”

Brady reiterates that, in this unprecedented public health emergency, Americans should not be silenced and should be able express their views safely in ways that do not put all of our lives and safety at risk. Brandishing assault-style weapons to intimidate lawmakers accomplishes none of these goals.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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