Are Legally Armed Black Men being Targeted in Detroit?

By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Are black people who legally carry guns discriminated against?  There is anecdotal evidence to indicate that it happens, particularly in crime-ridden urban centers.  Students and retired police friends and acquaintances have told me that when guns were found in the possession of black men, in most urban centers, three or more decades ago, the guns were confiscated, legal or not.

That was before the concealed carry revolution, when only a few states issued concealed carry permits, and they were often issued only at the discretion of the police chief.  Many of the gun control laws were designed specifically to disarm black men.

In 1967, the Black Panthers launched a bit of lawfare that brought about a ban on the open carry of loaded guns in California.  It is hard to believe that the change in law was not what the Panthers intended, though they claimed to support the right to bear arms.  Remember, the Panthers openly supported armed revolution in the United States.  The day the gun control bill was before the legislature, the Panthers showed up at the capitol, carrying their guns in a threatening manner, unlike the open carry protests of today.  The summer of 1967 was the year of race riots in much of the nation.

The panthers' demonstrations resulted in the ban on the open carry of loaded guns that was signed by Ronald Reagan.  This has been twisted by the left to claim that the Panthers initiated the gun rights movement in the United States.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  California had always been less than supportive of the second amendment.   California does not have a right to keep and bear arms clause in its constitution, because the state government wanted to be able to disarm Mexicans and Chinese.   California concealed carry law was originally passed in 1923, with the intention of making sure that minorities were disarmed.

We can never know for certain if the Panthers intended to have more gun control passed.  More controls were certainly supported by the left, and the Panthers were strongly supported by the radical left, as noted in David Horowitz' “Radical Son”:

While no one would publicly say so, it was the Panther's violent image that provided their real attraction to the New Left.  Blacks would seek liberation, Malcolm said, though the “ballot or the bullet,” but no radical believed that the System could be changed by peaceful means.”

Because leftist “revolutionaries” embrace deception as part of their tactics, the fact that some Panthers claimed to support the second amendment is inconclusive.  The gun culture is intimately familiar with politicians who say “we support the second amendment” during elections.    It is clear that the left supported restrictive gun legislation.  It was only a year later that the United States Congress, at the urging of Lyndon Johnson, passed the most restrictive federal gun legislation up to that time, the federal gun control act of 1968.

More gun laws did provoke a backlash, but not against black people.  The backlash was against the increasingly restrictive gun laws.  The gun culture organized and developed means of communication outside of the dominant media.  It fought back against the restrictions as the old media pushed for more and more.   The gun culture fought for the right to bear arms for all citizens, regardless of color.  Otis McDonald is a hero of the modern gun culture for his advocacy of the second amendment in McDonald v Chicago.

The Black tradition of Arms is covered extensively in a 379 page book that was published this year.  It shows that black peoples' use of arms, and the attempts to disarm them, have an extensive history.

In September of this year, we have a disturbing case out of Detroit, involving a black open carry activist, Elijah Woody.  Woody is a member of the open carry activist group Hell's Saints.  The founder of Hell's Saints, James C. Baker, reports that he met with Police Chief Craig, and that dashcam video has some starting words recorded.   From an email by James C. Baker:

What is disturbing is that the officers who arrested Elijah told him to “stop educating dumb niggers” about their rights to open carry in the squad car after the arrest. They also told him that they get a $100 bonus each time the arrest a man with a gun in their precinct.

Elijah is a black man, and the police officers involved are said to be black men as well.

Elijah's attorney has requested the video, but it has not been released to the public.  Donations to his legal defense can be made at www.michigancarries.org.

Hell's Saints open carry group claims to have found several similar cases.  From Facebook Hell's Saints Elijah Woody link:

One victim, a black male named Jernoie Stanford, describes a story that is disturbingly similar to Elijah Woody's. According to Stanford's testimony, the police saw that he was open carrying, and arrested him for a curfew ticket. His gun was seized by the police, which has still not been returned to him. The Detroit Police told him under the phone that they are still holding his legally-possessed and legally-purchased handgun, “pending further investigation.” They want to check the gun to make sure that it does not have a violent past, even though it was purchased new and Stanford kept it on him. He has yet to be charged with a gun-related crime. He does not have any upcoming court dates, either.

The link shows two more cases:

Another black male, Anthony Murray, describes a nearly identical arrest with his open-carried gun being taken, being charged with carrying a concealed weapon, and getting the run-around when trying to get the gun back, even though he had all the paperwork for the gun on him when he was arrested.
Another victim, Anthony Collins, told a story similar to Murray's that occurred two years ago.

Detroit police have been accused of harassing gun owners at a gun turn in event in 2010, so the possibility exists that being black and carrying a gun is a doubly attractive combination for police there.

While not in Detroit, the case of Jason Smith in Battle Creek, Michigan appears suspicious.  I have not determined if Smith is black.   Perhaps a reader can determine if he is.   Smith plead to a “resisting a police officer” misdemeanor after four days in jail, when the police could not find a gun crime to charge him with.

Update: from miopencarry.org, this discussion:

 Here's a restatement/slight rewording by me of what one MOC fb member wrote. There was no gun charge filed. The police arrested him and he spent four days in jail before his court appearance. By this time the lawyers and the judge realized that he had not yet broken any laws. So the judge gave him a small fine and time served for resisting arrest, or actually “hindering or obstructing an officer” as BC calls it. It’s a catch-all charge they use. They couldn’t readily admit that he was arrested and jailed without just cause. Here’s what all the parties have said about this on the record.
+++++
“I didn’t really do it on purpose,” said Jason Smith. “I was just nervous and kept moving around and he thought I was trying to resist arrest.”

“When we made contact with him he was resisting, pulling away, was nervous,” said Sgt. Jeff Case, Battle Creek Police Gang Unit on Thursday. “Basically didn’t want us to make contact with him originally.”
+++++
Yeah, I bet. A young black guy traveling with a rifle being approached by the BC Gang Unit? Why were you trying to arrest him anyway, Sgt. Case? No one is asking the Battle Creek police that!

Criminals almost never openly carry arms, and the police are being educated in Detroit that open carry is protected by law.  In this story from Mlive, two different descriptions are give of the arrest of Elijah Woody.  From the Mlive story on Elijah Woody:

Elijah Woody tells MLive Detroit he was talking with friends along Hague between Brush and Beubian in Detroit's North End neighborhood.

“I was there about five to 10 minutes and the police came … I got out my phone and started recording,” he says. “Police came up to me, took the gun off my hips, handcuffed me and took me to the back of the car.”

He claims one of the officers — there were three in an unmarked car, what Elijah Woody says are called “jump-out boys” on the streets — took his phone and threw it, which caused it to stop recording.

A police spokesman paints a different picture.  He says the police “smelled marijuana” then searched the group and found Elijah's $550 Glock pistol:

“Although the jacket was tucked in behind the weapon, it was an over-sized jacket that flopped over the top of the weapon as well,” Sgt. Woody said. The gun “has to be visibly noticeable to anybody who you come in contact with during the normal course of the day.

“If I come up to you and look at your waistband, I should be able to know that you're carrying a weapon.”

Sgt. Woody is not related to Elijah Woody.   Let it be noted that Elijah Woody does not have any criminal convictions.   The allegation that the police stopped Elijah from recording the incident is troubling.  The case is ongoing and has not been resolved.

In Texas, the Black and left wing  Huey P. Newton Gun Club routinely marches with openly carried long guns.   They have not been molested.

Huey P Newton Gun ClubDallas

There have been many examples of non-blacks illegally arrested for the open carry of arms.

Hell's Saints held an open carry march to protest Elijah Woody's arrest.  They are becoming nationally known for their open carry urban marches.  Their group shows the typical racial and gender inclusiveness of the open carry movement.

Elijah Woody Open Carry Protest

Here is a link to the Video of the open carry protest.

Police are being educated that open carry is not a crime.  With ubiquitous recording devices, and court cases stating that recording police in the performance of their public duties is a first amendment right, I predict that more black men will open carry, and police will be forced by law to recognize their rights.   Ironically, if Elijah had been carrying his rifle, the police would not be able to claim that his weapon was partly hidden.

I will be watching for updates on the Elijah Woody case.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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    Stay-CalmStu ChisholmI Call B.S. Recent comment authors
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    Stay-Calm

    I agree with Stu – this is a very misleading article. There are incidents in every city of police stopping people of ALL color for open carry. Problem is, when you speak about Detroit, it is 99% black. So they are not targeting BLACK residents, just residents in general. It just so happens that very few white people actually live there. Police Chief Craig is like a breath of fresh air in Detroit – he would NOT support that kind of policy by the officers.

    Stu Chisholm
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    Stu Chisholm

    Seems a bit hard to believe, given that Detroit Police Chief James Craig is not only black, but a gun rights proponent, featured on the cover of the NRA’s “America’s First Freedom” last May. He infamously advised Detroit residents to get armed and trained because “we cannot be everywhere,” espeically when handed severe budget cuts to his department. When criticized, he responded, “We’re not advocating violence. We’re advocates of not being victims.” It seems to me that it would be antithetical for Craig and his department to suddenly target the very people he advised to “take back your neighborhood” in… Read more »

    I Call B.S.
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    I Call B.S.

    Dean… dude , the picture is months old, this kind of report is what shallow Shannon Wats would do.// 4 Shame 4 pandering. We are all at a Higher Standard.