Arlington Cops, Open-Carry Advocates Go Toe-to-Toe Over the Constitution

Categories: News

ArlingtonCopsOpenCarry.JPG
Arlington, like many other cities, has a law banning people from handing out leaflets, or anything else for that matter, to passing cars. To wit:

No person shall stand or walk on or in any manner occupy a shoulder, improved shoulder, sidewalk, median or public right-of-way for the purpose of distributing literature or any other object to the occupant of a vehicle, other than a lawfully parked vehicle.

Maybe you consider that an unfair abridgment of free speech, maybe not. Either way, municipalities have generally gotten away with it by claiming such rules are needed to protect public safety. In Arlington, the measure is enforced with a class C misdemeanor ticket, or at the very least the threat of one.

But what happens when the people handing out literature are armed with rifles? And what if, in an act of civil disobedience, they keep doing it?

See also: Open Carry Advocates Marched with Rifles in Arlington, Scared a Moms-against-Guns Group

This video, posted to YouTube by local open-carry activist and Congressional candidate Kory Watkins, suggests the situation will be tense.

Watkins and his team are in front of what appears to be a Raising Cane's handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution, as they've done on several occasions recently, having apparently grown bored with simply walking around the suburbs with their guns like they'd been doing.

The clip begins after police have already arrived. You can't really hear what police are saying, partly because the audio's terrible, partly because Watkins et al are hurling insults and preaching about the sanctity of the Constitution.

Daniel Wood, one of two activists Arlington police ticketed, says his group has demonstrated and handed out literature in several North Texas cities, including multiple stops in Arlington, without any issue. He describes the citations as Arlington's new strategy for keeping them from demonstrating.

Since the video was shot, Wood says he has met with police officials to discuss the policy and spoken against the anti-leaflet ordinance at an Arlington City Council meeting.

He plans to fight his $171 ticket.

(h/t Matt Fanning)

This post has been updated with responses from Daniel Wood and a couple of clarifications.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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139 comments
coloapachie
coloapachie

Keep it up it's your right and to NoCode2112 you are 100% right take it to court that's selective enforcement they can do it but you can't it should be against the law consult a civil rights Attorney. Also if you take it to court get video of them interfering with traffic. Good luck Copwatch Denver

NoCode2112
NoCode2112

All over the DFW area I often see police and firemen at intersections soliciting donations from the passing cars.  Why is it OK for people to hand money to cops and firemen by the side of the road, but somebody can't pass a constitution into a car?

melser
melser

This seems like a law created by oligarchs to stop the common man from making an honest living distributing leaflets. People should not be stopped from distributing the messages for people to have access to the good things. http://ow.ly/vpgtz

daviddallastx
daviddallastx

That could have gone much worse.  The camera man re-approaches at 3:45 and tells the cop to "Shut up dude." when he tells him to get back.  These guys are relying on the restraint of the cops and the camera to keep them safe while they provoke the cops.  It's all just embarassing.


David


whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

I appreciate the cause, the execution of getting the point across is embarrasing

carollamotte
carollamotte

Out of all the cities they have demonstrated open carry, Arlington has to be the only city that had to interfere. Your embarrass me Arlington. This could have been handled with just a verbal as it is supposed to be the first time you are stopped for such an incident/

carollamotte
carollamotte

Depends on what side of town you are on! I live past the railroad tracks and pretty much anything goes. People always handing out advertisements and putting them on your door. Homeless people walking the streets asking for handouts. And surprisingly enough the Cop Shop is right down the street and they never do a thing. Perhaps if I strap a gun on my back, they will take notice. I don't think "distributing literature" was their agenda at all. They stopped to hassle the Open Carry Group! And they were none too polite about it either. Afterall, they were near Jerry Land, AT&T Stadium so they must keep up appearances on that side of town.

michelleso1
michelleso1

"No person shall stand or walk on or in any manner occupy a shoulder, improved shoulder, sidewalk, median or public right-of-way for the purpose of distributing literature or any other object to the occupant of a vehicle, other than a lawfully parked vehicle."

That is the law....but if you are just walking and people ask for information....that DOES NOT apply to this law! And that's what these people were doing. They were no standing there "for the purpose of distributing literature"......Just saying. 

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

While the regulation prohibiting passing out literature to unparked vehicles is a legitimate time, place and manner restriction on First Amendment speech; the exemption for the FD would likely cause the regulation to be overturned if this person chooses to take it to court (and assuming his lawyer is not a mouth-breathing idiot).

j_angel180
j_angel180

These idiots are a joke . If it's Arlington law is there to stop anyone from passing fliers to moving cars so that there won't be any accidents the Arlington police were in their "RIGHTS" as well. Morons.

mikal214
mikal214

If I talked to the police like that, they'd kick my ass. The hillbillies ought to be shoved down on the pavement and put in jail.

lawsonchris
lawsonchris

 What a bunch of idiot's. You can hand out your flyer to anyone you want to just not to people in moving car's. You can cause an accident either directly or indirectly. I have seen it happen to many times. You think that this is a way to get your name and what ever info you are trying to pass on in to the press..

The police did not arrest you for anything and gave you a warming not to pass out flyer's to the cars. THEY DID THEIR JOB'S. You should be proud, instead you would rather ridicule the guy's that put their lives on the line every day so that you can be free to hand out your political flyer's.


nai06
nai06

The Arlington Fire Department has been on the sidewalks and in the medians asking for donations recently. Its possible that they received a special permit for it but I cant say for sure. Regardless, it seems that the city is choosing to apply the law differently based on the subject matter which is really a shame. Im not saying its a good law, but if its going to be enforced in should be done in a consistent manner.


the full law prohibits handing out literature and accepting donations. It also list specific intersections that are banned which in at least one case the FD was choosing to ignore those restrictions as well.

James080
James080

These boys are just Westboro church without all of the shouting. They go out armed with rifles and cameras looking to provoke a confrontation with the police so they can catch it all on film and grab a headline. Ignore them, they will go away.

davissbc
davissbc

@bvckvs I'm pretty sure none of the Open Carry "gun nuts" have ever murdered anyone, I doubt they have have ever even assaulted anyone, and they damn sure don't have the right to imprison anyone on a whim. Can't say the same about our heroic men in blue can you? So who are the nuts here? Who are the real psychopaths?

observist
observist

@mikal214  There must be something special about you that cause the police to "kick my ass"...maybe being a parolee or just communicating non-verbally that you don't know your basic rights and willing to submit to anything people wearing uniform decked out with a variety of lethal weapons tell you, even when they lie or are ignorant of the laws and constitutional rights that protect citizens from abuses by people with authority and public trust (happen very often and police are allowed and trained to lie and deceive).


Seriously, confidence in knowing and asserting their legal rights and constraints on police power (e.g. ordering cop not to touch their camera or push them back, asking critical questions like "Am I being detained or am I free to go?" and "What laws am I breaking/suspected of violating?"), and videotaping the cops/the scene usually control their urge to intimmidate, lie, threaten, abuse, etc. Being with others, having witnesses/observers, multiple videorecorders, out on public sidewalk with lots of eyeballs helped level the power imbalance between a citizen and the typical team of police cars and armed officers ready to strike even at a simple traffic stop...because absent these, what happens from public view and cameras comes down to the words of citizens (i.e. accused criminals, despite the "innocent till proven guilty" principle) against upstanding law enforcement officers, who can file all kinds of charges and often get away with some beating or tasing by simply saying "Stop resisting!" or killing because "I feared for my life"--even in cases where an unarmed person was running away. 


Seeing citizens carrying guns who know how and what circumstances they can use them very likely reduced the God-like outlook cops have been used to possessing exclusively when encountering citizens. Bullies usually only pick on the weaker and more vulnerable victims.

observist
observist

@lawsonchris Not only did it not appear that they were handing out copies of the Constitution "to people in moving cars" as you claim but it would make no sense to do so for just practical reasons. They were on the public sidewalk near a traffic light for good reasons: they can safely and politely offer the literature, and even briefly answer questions,  *to motorists who were STOPPED when the light was red*.


If they had a legal basis to arrest anyone in the group, don't you think they would have? Or did these officers knowingly ignore criminal activity that rise to an arrestable and jailable offenses? While on camera, no less. Let's think a bit.


I appreciate what the police, firefighters, and other public Cervantes get paid to do as much as anybody. But in terms of "putting their lives on the line every day", Thor federal labor statistics  has police work as being the 10th deadliest occupation (per 100,000) behind window cleaners, garbage collectors, pilots, oil field workers, and so on. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@lawsonchris

Note that the guys doing their jobs are... Carrying weapons.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@nai06  seriously?  you dont get why firefighters can, and you cant?

lawsonchris
lawsonchris

@nai06  They Fire Department doe's have to get a special permit to be allowed to accept donations. Out of all the request for permit's I believe the the Fire department would know how to do this in a safe manner with all of their training. I wouldn't want just anyone out their diving into traffic and getting hit.

luv2bpeaceful
luv2bpeaceful

@nai06  The fire dept doesn't do it in front of businesses holding weapons.

tdkisok
tdkisok

@James080  


"These boys are just Westboro church without all of the shouting."


Turn up the volume on your device. They were shouting and calling people names. Same shit without the "fag" and "queer" slurs.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@James080

Unlike the Westboro gang, they're not selling their hatred, nor are they casting judgement on anyone. They are calling attention to their cause, the US Constitution.

These advocates are almost exactly what the Occupy movement was. Using theatre to attract attention to their cause, but without the huge disruption to commerce and freedom of movement Occupy forced on citizens. And, unlike the Occupy theatre, there is no violence, illegality, huge taxpayer expense, disease, trash, rape, death or drug use connected to these type events, which are really pretty common if you check youtube.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@James080  Most of those retailers want them to go away.  No matter how legal it is to open carry, customers dont want to be harassed by these people

leftocenter
leftocenter

@observist

This may be the biggest, stupidest, and most dangerous assumption ever made:

"Seeing citizens carrying guns who know how and what circumstances they can use them..."

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@observist

Handing anything to someone in a "moving car" in a 35mph zone with a rifle slung over the shoulder would qualify this guy for Force Recon, or at least the Olympics.

nai06
nai06

@luv2bpeaceful Guns have nothing to do with the situation. It appears all weapons were being carried in a lawful manner. Its a crappy law designed to combat panhandling that appears to be enforced in a very inconsistent manner

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@tdkisok

From what I hear and see, their verbal assaults were directed at the police.

James080
James080

@TheRuddSki  

They are disrupting the businesses in the area of their demonstration. They are acting out of context in the hopes provoking a police over-reaction and attracting media coverage. 

You know better than to think I support the Occupy movement, and that I am a firm supporter of the 2nd amendment and a CHL holder. There are lots of things which are my constitutional right to do, like burning the American flag on Main Street. The fact that I choose not to exercise those rights doesn't mean I waive those rights.  Look at the context here. In my opinion, these guys are merely media whores, and they are not advancing the defense of the 2nd amendment by posing like some bad-ass paramilitary constitutional committee of street pamphleteers.

James080
James080

@ScottsMerkin @James080 

Scott...the city of Dallas wants pamphlet peddlers and discredited assassination authors out of Dealey Plaza. But the law allows these people to be there so they must be tolerated. I agree and sympathize with the businesses. But if these people are continually given the media coverage they seek, they will continue. In the end, isn't this really all about building name recognition for their candidate/leader (who I never heard of before today).

leftocenter
leftocenter

I'm a gun owner with a concealed carry permit.  I'm not anti-gun.  I disagree with these guys using an open carry law (and their smartphones) to posture and intimidate LE and anyone else they can. 

They are Rambo wannabes, likely with small male parts.  They aren't smart enough not to run out into traffic, which gives them the maturity level of a 3 year old.  (nanananana...we have guns too!) 

These guys are out to get attention, to push cops around, all for the purpose of...I don't know...they hoping to get laid at some point?  look at me...look!  that's me with that AR over my shoulder...hot isn't it?

I just threw up in my mouth a little...

ps...yes, sometimes, cops are bullies too...sometimes 14 year old girls are bullies...

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@leftocenter How so?  Because you happen to disagree with citizens exercising their rights?  If you include the entire sentence, it makes sense, whether you are for or against the citizenry carrying arms; because it isn't about them carrying arms.  The statement and assumption is about what may or may not cause a police officer to hold up and think twice about what he may or may not want to do.

lawsonchris
lawsonchris

@TheRuddSki  sorry my mistake...I miss understood who you were referring to.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@lawsonchris

I was referring to the cops.

nai06
nai06

@ScottsMerkin @lawsonchris the specific city ordinance makes no mention of an exception for fire and police. The FD has been collecting money for MDA. While a noble cause, their method still puts them in violation unless there is a special permit or exemption which is not mentioned and likely not available to the general public. Even if the fire dept has a special permit, it creates an ethical issue. The FD is now using their special position to circumvent the law for the sole benefit of a single specific group. Thats a definitely a problem. Its a poorly written law that needs to go away

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@lawsonchris guess you are too lazy to google but here it goes,

1.  Its allowed under state law

2.  City ordinances can and do exempt firefightesr and police from the solicitation and panhandling laws that cities may enact

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@lawsonchris nah, its really fun watching you and your cohorts spout ignorant shit around here.  continue on

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk

Racist.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@James080

Yes, they are committing political theatre to attract attention to their cause. We agree.

And, I imagine businesses in the area would rather they not disrupt business, but I don't imagine the disruption was very severe nor drawn out. Road construction is unpopular too.

I didn't suggest you supported Occupy, I was just making a point.

I also agree with you that these types of demos can cause more harm than good - just as Occupy became a liability, but I think I see more entertainment value in these confrontations, which are ubiquitous on youtube.

It's like "Cop Block". Yeah, these guys are often idiots, but they do serve an overall purpose.

wnorred
wnorred

@ScottsMerkin @lawsonchris The Constitution requires that laws be enforced with the idea of "content neutrality". If you allow the fire department to stand in the street and panhandle, then you have to allow everyone to panhandle. 

What you CAN'T do is say that you are regulating on the basis of safety, and then let some people do it on the basis of their politically correct goal, and deny others on the basis of their politically incorrect goals.

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