(TMU) – A group of Black gun owners are planning a march in Oklahoma City today, to raise awareness about how gun laws are often disproportionately targeted at the Black community. The demonstration will begin at 2 p.m. at Ralph Ellison Memorial Library, and is estimated to draw anywhere from 200 to 1000 people.
Once the demonstrators assemble, they will take a peaceful one-mile walk to the Governor’s Mansion. The organizers of the event have been very clear about their intentions to have a peaceful protest.
41-year-old Omar Chatman, one of the organizers of the march, says that they want to send an important message.
“As an African American, it’s important to send a message to the governor and president that we aren’t going to allow people to come into our communities and brutalize us. That goes for corrupt police officers, white supremacists and criminals. Criminals have no color. It doesn’t matter if you are a Black man, white man, Asian or Hispanic. If you come into our community, know we are armed,” Chatman said.
In Oklahoma, it is legal for citizens to openly carry firearms, even without a permit, but the Black community still faces intense scrutiny from police for owning guns, and there is a strong social stigma against it as well.
Philip Smith, the president and founder of the National African American Gun Association, says that Black people with guns are often looked down upon, especially by law enforcement.
“Black folks and guns usually get a negative stereotype reaction like: ‘What is that guy doing with a gun?’ Does law enforcement, or more importantly larger society, view Black men with firearms in a certain way? Let’s have that discussion,” Smith said.
In many cases, police end up shooting innocent Black men that they see with a gun, while White mass shooters are often apprehended unharmed. This is not to say that White people are never killed by police under similar circumstances.
Just this week, The Mind Unleashed reported on the story of Hannah Fizer, a young White woman who was shot and killed by police because the officer believed she had a gun, but no gun was ever found. Still, it is undeniable that the Black community faces these types of unwarranted police killings at a much higher rate.
“I have encountered the police and observed them while holding my gun from a safe distance. I’ve been displeased with every encounter. They treat Black men with guns with condescension and sarcasm. They should engage us as they would anyone else,” Chatman explained.
According to a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center, four in ten Americans admit to owning a firearm, but when broken down by race only 24% of African Americans say they personally own a gun, compared with 36% of Whites and 15% of Hispanics.
Meanwhile, about an hour away, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, US President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at a rally on the same day. Many have called the timing and location of the rally a “slap in the face”, considering that it was the location of the Black Wall Street massacre.
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