About 50 Second Amendment supporters marched for a mile along Northeast 23rd Street to the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion this afternoon to emphasize Black gun rights.
A gun rights group for people of color called 1,000 Brothers and Sisters in Arms organized the walk, which began at the Ralph Ellison Library. The event served to send a message to government officials when it comes to people of color and their Second Amendment rights, participants said.
Event organizer Omar Chatman said the walk and bearing of arms were meant to communicate to the local and federal government that police brutality, racism and criminal activity toward African-American communities will not be tolerated.
Chatman, 41, said he started carrying his gun in public after George Floyd’s death as a message to all African Americans that they should not be scared to carry firearms.
“I did not know how many people would show up, if it was going to be a mixture, or my brothers and sisters only, but I’m actually glad that others did come out because it shows that we can unify,” Chatman said after leaving the intersection in front of the governor’s mansion.
Vet: Weapons, self-defense create respect
Military veteran Albert Carter, 51, said people who can show they have the weapons and means to defend themselves will be more respected.
“I’m supporting freedom and people in any community or minority group who wants to exercise their rights and live in a country that is free and not repressive against race or anything,” Carter said. “If you look at the history of the United States in dealing with racial tensions and that whole environment — going all the way back to slavery — African-Americans have been belittled in their rights of bearing arms.”
Carter said Saturday’s event was about showing people a different side of the Second Amendment.
“We want to show America that we are ready, we are armed and we have rights,” Carter said. “We all come in peace, we all come in love and we just want to live within the constitution and laws of the United States.”
In 2019, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill authorizing the permitless carry of firearms in public. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the measure into law, which became effective in November. Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) led multiple efforts to attempt to repeal the new law, and Saturday’s march occurred along Northeast 23rd Street, which marks a portion of the border of Lowe’s district.
‘Black people need to be as powerful as anybody else’
Renee Muhammad, 40, participated in the walk. She wanted to make sure no one gets hurt.
“I don’t carry a gun, but I think they should be able to,” Muhammad said, pointing at the demonstrators. “I think that we need to show that we are not docile, and that black people need to be as powerful as anybody else.”
Several white Oklahomans participated in the march as well.
“I’m here because I believe that every American has the right to bear arms for the defense of their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” said Tulsa resident Cody Hartley. “I’m not here today because I think I agree with everyone, but I do think we all agree on one thing in particular, and that is we all should be armed and prepared and free.”
Hartley said it is important to exercise Second Amendment rights because real evil exists.
“Whether that be common criminals, the police — in some cases — or the government itself, all those people need to be kept in check, and a well-armed populace is the best way to do that,” Hartley said.