On May 14th we went down to Philladelphia to join other open carriers for a demonstration. We were marching to protest the Philadelphia Police Department’s illegal policies in general and their violation of the civil rights of Mark Fiorino specifically. In case you are wondering, yeah, I’m in that picture.
We assembled in front of city hall, then went to the DA’s office, the AG’s office, the police department, and finally wrapped up in the front of the Liberty Bell. Marching through center city Philadelphia we had no problems, and really no negative responses. We did have some positive responses, and quite a few curious people asking us questions.
We had an escort from the police civil affairs unit, and had gotten a permit for the demonstration. Everything went smoothly and without a hitch. The police seemed like they were getting the message. But based on their responses to articles published since the demonstration it looks like they have not.
The details of what they did to Mark can be found in this thread. Of particular interest is the link to his recording of the incident on youtube. It is worth noting that this is not Mark’s first run in with the Philadelphia PD. They are developing quite a pattern of harassment.
The story was picked up by a couple of Philadelphia papers, and then Fox News. Police officials responding in the faux snews story have promised to violate the rights of even more people should any be dumb enough to actually try to excercise their rights.
A couple of things need to be pointed out.
- We are within our rights and the law. We will not back down or stop open carrying.
- While open carry in a city of the first class requires a license under state law, it does not rise to reasonable suspicion or probable cause under Terry VS Ohio and it’s progeny. That means that open carry absent any other suspicious activity is not a reason to stop someone, or demand their license. It certainly isn’t sufficient to justify proning someone out.
- Open carriers regularly carry recording equipment so we can record the gestapo when they jack us up. While Pennsylvania is generally a two party consent state there is an exception for government officials who may be recorded in the performance of their duty. Also, many of us will inform officers when we are recording which removes their expectation of privacy and expectation of non interception.
- Mark wasn’t tying to entrap anyone. If the cops had left him alone and obeyed the law then they wouldn’t have been recorded breaking the law. Simple enough.
I’ll be in Philly again in June. As always I’ll be open carrying. Unlike a lot of the people at the demonstration I open carry all of the time. I have not had a problem in Philadelphia so far. We’ll see if they have a problem now.