Keeping the Public Safe in Everybody’s Hometown

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I was disturbed to see images of angry men in camouflage wielding assault-style weapons on the courthouse square, harassing a student-led demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter. We promote ourselves as “everybody’s hometown,” and we should behave like it. The videos from the recent demonstration and counter-demonstration speak for themselves. It hurts downtown businesses to have open displays of aggression on the square. Prescott needs to be better than this.

Everyone has the right to peacefully gather and assemble, and Prescott’s courthouse square has been the site of many peaceful demonstrations. From homages to those killed at the Tree of Life synagogue to Gulf War protests, cultural festivals, and Republican rallies, the square is a sacred space for diverse expression of civic life, and we need to keep it safe for everybody to use in “everybody’s hometown.”

The people responsible for maintaining the safety of our public spaces are our local peace officers. The Prescott Police Department and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office effectively managed the situation and prevented physical harm or violence from happening. We should applaud that. It particularly concerns me that some groups clearly have so little faith in our local law enforcement that they feel compelled to show up with their own weapons for a demonstration. It is up to our local law-enforcement professionals to determine whether they need backup, and that would only come from other professionals. Here we had self-appointed paramilitaries, also known as vigilantes, many from out of town, with high-powered weaponry simultaneously claiming to defend our town and aggressively asserting their own political agenda against people they disagree with. The virtue of law enforcement is that they are accountable to the law and are sworn to protect all citizens, regardless of political affiliation or agenda.

As a former holder of a federal firearms license selling rifles on Whiskey Row, I know that responsible gun ownership is the key to preserving the freedoms guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Brandishing guns at demonstrators is an act of open intimidation meant to deprive everyone else of their First Amendment right to speak. It may not be technically illegal, but it is tremendously irresponsible and we should recognize it as such. Threatening behavior opens the door to tragedy. 

Whoever organized the armed counter-demonstration on September 4 did not consider the impact it could have on Prescott’s image and tourism-dependent economy, on the long-term vitality of civic practice at the courthouse square, or on people’s lives if something went wrong. They also disrespected our law-enforcement professionals by not trusting them to manage the situation. Displaying weapons while screaming profanities in public does not keep our town safe. I expect better of those exercising their constitutional rights.

I ask all responsible gun owners to consider how high emotions can lead to tragic results, and exercise sensible self-restraint in exercising the rights we all cherish.

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14 responses to “Keeping the Public Safe in Everybody’s Hometown”

  1. Jeff says:

    Clearly biased and uneducated writing. Get some facts and perspective before you released such an obvious ad campaign for BLM- a terrorist group.

    • Guy Roginson says:

      Hi Jeff, as clearly marked on the article, it is an ad campaign, and an opinion, so yes, there’s bias in opinion. As we have stated to the public, we welcome all sides of the discussion. There is a link at the top of the article to submit opinions. Thank you for submitting your thoughts.

  2. Richard says:

    John expressed our thoughts perfectly. I am a U.S. Army veteran and my son is a border agent on the southern border.
    Brandishing guns and intimidating folks at the Court House square is meant to deprive everyone of their First Amendment right to speak. Local officials have the responsibility to maintain order and they do an excellent job…thank you very much!
    Another point about the demonstration is MASKING! That is everyone’s responsibility!

  3. Fernando says:

    Lets step back and ask…. Why would BLM protest here in Prescott. Why would they come from other places to protest in a town they don’t know? Is it because of our segregated school(1 high school). Is it because our buses force people of color to sit in the back? Or is it our separate water fountains? Perhaps the restaurants in town that refuse service to Black’s? No….this is a marxist branch of the democrats attacking conservative strongholds to electrify the liberal voters who typically won’t go to the polls especially with as lame a candidate as they have (which they elected). This was an attack on our peaceful little town where we pretty much all know each other. And where we don’t care how you dress, how much or little you have, your sexual preferences, religion, age, or race. That is what is under attack. Basic war strategy….divide and concur. So again. Ask yourself…..why Prescott?

  4. Steve says:

    Mr. Lutes claims that folks who showed up to counter BLM demonstrations were from out of town. I am guessing he considers PV, Dewey, and Chino to be from out of town?
    Meanwhile, the BLMs definitely include people from the Valley. What do they have to do with us?

    Richard, I appreciate your service, and that of your son. However, it does not make you an expert here. The use of the word “brandishing” is incorrect, as these folks were exercising their right to possess. According to AZ law, to be in violation of brandishing the person must “recklessly display” the firearm.

    I am a retired veteran Arizona Lawman. Please be careful not to cross the line of “infringement” through overstatements.

  5. Joe says:

    BLM is a self proclaimed Marxist/hate group that promotes the the breakdown of the nuclear family. Just read the biographies of it’s founders. You don’t remember the slogan they use to chant at police in their marches” Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon!”. Antifa which is a militant left fascist/anarchists group typically is embedded in these quote “BLM peaceful protests” have been burning and looting cities for the last 100+ days nationally. If you watch anything other than the liberal propaganda (CNN, MSNBC, and etc.) channels you would easily see this. Our national media is covering and providing leftist propaganda hiding the actions of these leftists and sorry to say it, violent mobs. Multiple people have been attacked and sometimes killed for defending their businesses, ideology, or just being in the path and the wrong skin color at BLM & Antifa protests. A quick google search will show you the damage and ruin of the BLM and Antifa protests when they are left to get out of hand, which can happen quickly and often. Nationally and collectively they destroyed billions of dollars of personal and public property (Even burned down police stations in much larger cities than Prescott), beaten and murdered innocent people, and ruined countless lives. Hasn’t the two mayors of Portland and San Jose had to move because these peaceful protestors have vandalized and in the one case in Portland, tried to burn Wheeler’s personal residence? Haven’t you seen statues being pulled down, buildings looted and burned, citizens being attacked in the streets? I’m all for peaceful protests but BLM and Antifa which nationally have been running in the same pack do not have a good track record for peaceful protests. So why can’t the people of Prescott counter protest BLM, isn’t their 1st amendment right to do so? Because they are waking up to what is happening else where in their country. Just because you exercise your 1st amendment doesn’t mean you can’t exercise your 2nd amendment at the same time. In some states in America that is illegal and the citizens who counter protested BLM and Antifa paid a heavy price for not doing so.

  6. María-Elena Dunn says:

    Fernando. As Jeff says, please educate yourself. The individuals at the square did NOT come from out of town. They are your neighbors. And, racism is not only perpetrated through overt actions such as the ones you mention but also through comments, looks, words spoken, denied opportunities, and so much more. We do have Blacks and People of Color in our community and many of them will tell you, if they were not afraid of the consequences, about the many indignities they suffer, daily. And, it is the current administration which has been very successful (look at your comments) at dividing and conquering! Let’s not allow fear-mongers to destroy our community and undermine our LE personnel who are there to do their job and need no additional “support.”

  7. Susan Fisher says:

    Speaking from Oregon today (a part time resident or AZ) I can tell you that the protest I have attended and observed of the BLM folks included a back up squad on the perimeter staked out. Possibly in the parking lots around. Even when they rush to small towns they alert a network that is either on stand by or on the way. If you dare show up with a Trump sticker on your car you can count on being yelled at, spit on or have your car rushed. There is nothing peaceful about this group and they are just ushering in violence and/or Antifa. I am to the point that I am going to carry a gun here in Oregon. You go ahead and shame people for coming to a protest that supports violence and then excising their rights to carry a gun. I say it is time to shut this violence down.

  8. Marci Sano says:

    Antifa is short for Ani- Fascist. The opposite is Fascist. Sounds like some of these comments are pro- fascist. Scary.

  9. Trevor In Ash Fork says:

    I’m coming from pretty far right wing after the fact but it’s interesting how things turned out. Just a few observations.

    1. The BLM people kinda looked like locals, they were being well-behaved and they were practicing their 1st Amendment. Zero property damage, zero fatalities, zero injuries. Everybody’s a winner!

    2. Some of our boys were there keeping an eye on things. They carried no rifles but they were there. That’s why I decided I didn’t need to be there. I don’t care about the politics, I care about the integrity of our rural communities.

    3. I hope the one thing I never do in this whole world is strap on a rifle and go yell at somebody to make a point of logic. They got other tools for yelling at people: megaphones, microphones and camera phones.

    I am sorry to say that the only way to really communicate with people is face to face in good faith. That means we leave our weapons at the door. Or worse. We might have to admit that we are wrong sometimes.

    We can afford this luxury. Nobody is gonna beat us on our own soil. Not in these here mountains. Not with violence they won’t.

  10. Ryan says:

    For every protest there is a counter protest. Counter protesters have just as much right to share their opinion as the protesters. I was in the courthouse square yesterday (09-11-2020). I only observed a handful of BLM protestors with their signs including “ACAB” or (All Cops Are Bastards). The BLM protesters were just as mouthy as anyone else. John Lutes we aren’t stupid. If you really think that law abiding citizens are going to put up with the “peacefully protested” over throw of our precious government, you have another thing coming. Take that ACAB BS back to the big city, it won’t be tolerated here. You can bet there will always be a counter protest when a protest that goes against the values of an area. I’m guessing you wouldn’t complain if there was a counter protest against the KKK if they protested somewhere… neither would I. I will be voting Oberg.

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