On the same day President Donald Trump is expected to hold his first rally since the COVID-19 pandemic, Black gun owners in Oklahoma City are expected to go for a peaceful mile walk to the Governor’s Mansion on Saturday (June 20), guns in tow.
According to USA Today, the walk is slated to begin at 2 p.m. CST at Ralph Ellison Memorial Library with 200-300 expected attendees who will be openly carrying firearms. It is about an hour and a half outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma where Trump’s rally is set to take place.
Though American citizens, most Black American gun owners are not treated with respect when it comes to the Second Amendment of the United States, which essentially protects the individual right to keep and bear arms. The purpose of the walk is to bring awareness to a dangerous bias.
“Black folks and guns usually get a negative stereotype reaction like: ‘What is that guy doing with a gun?’” President and founder of the National African American Gun Association Philip Smith tells USA Today. “Does law enforcement, or more importantly larger society, view Black men with firearms in a certain way? Let’s have that discussion.”
The bias of Black Americans exercising their rights to bear arms dates back to the 1960s when the Black Panthers did patrols of their own Oakland neighborhoods, while legally and openly carrying firearms. As a result, the Mulford Act was passed, repealing a law allowing for the public carrying of loaded firearms.
One of the organizers of the pro-Second Amendment walk is 41-year-old Omar Chatman who says he’ll be carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
“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,” Chatman says. “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,” he adds.
In Oklahoma, citizens age 21 or older, active duty military personnel or veterans age 18 or older are allowed to carry a firearm in public without a permit. In November, Oklahoma’s Constitutional Carry Law passed prohibiting felons, people with mental illness or those with domestic violence convictions from carrying a firearm.
According to a 2017 study by Pew Research Center, only 24 percent of Black people say they personally own a gun compared to 36 percent of white people and 15 percent of Hispanics.
Trump’s rally was originally scheduled to take place in Tulsa on Juneteenth (June 19) but was rescheduled after being met with criticism. Tulsa is also the site where mobs of white residents attacked thriving black residents and businesses in 1921, making this a peculiar time and place to hold a rally amid the current public outcry against police brutality and racial injustice.
“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th — a big deal,” he tweeted. “Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday.”