Police stopped a car of Black men and confiscated two of their guns at Virginia’s annual “Lobby Day” on Monday while white gun rights activists defied local laws unimpeded in the state capital of Richmond. In a day with racial tensions on display, Black protesters denounced what they called a double standard in a state where people are free to openly carry firearms.
Virginians converge on the capitol each Lobby Day to petition state legislators on issues of public interest, but the day has been dominated by gun rights activists in recent years. It coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which honors the slain civil rights hero. Reuters witnessed the police stop, which stood in contrast to dozens of white pro-gun activists on foot and in hundreds of trucks that drove through Richmond’s streets flying “Guns Save Lives” flags without police interceding. They were stopped one block from Richmond’s memorial to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, less than an hour after a white, anti-government “boogaloo” leader boasted on a megaphone that his group was violating gun and ammunition laws.
One of the Black men to have handguns confiscated unleashed an expletive-laden complaint, calling it a double-standard and an example of why many Black Americans resent the police.
“Everybody in the city is carrying today, and you’re only pulling us over,” yelled a Black woman who was looking on with a group of enraged bystanders. “Shoutout to Martin Luther King Day!” Richmond police did not immediately respond to a Reuters query about the incident and about the protesters’ allegation of discrimination. On Twitter, police said they had issued a summons to one man at that scene for possessing a concealed firearm without a permit, and had confiscated the gun. This year’s Lobby Day took place in a highly polarized climate, coming shortly after supporters of President Donald Trump seized the U.S. Capitol and after a year in which anti-racist and white nationalist demonstrators clashed at demonstrations across the United States. [full article]