I bet if you polled the staff of the Triad City Beat newspaper in North Carolina about whether or not we should be putting people in jail for non-violent, minor offenses at the moment, you’d get an almost unanimous “No” in response. They’d likely argue that it’s cruel to put people behind bars for low-level crimes at a time when the coronavirus is raging in many penal institutions, or at least a bad idea.

But if you polled the same staff members about arresting people for protesting while armed in North Carolina, you’d get resounding agreement with the idea. The paper’s come out with an editorial bemoaning the fact that a small group of armed protestors didn’t get arrested by local police recently, despite a state law in North Carolina that prohibits protesting while armed.

the officers from the Raleigh police and the Capitol police — always on the lookout to prevent citizens from getting arrested, so it would seem — warned these men of this statute when they arrived on the scene, and further explained that if they put away their signs, then they would not consider this action a protest.

They ditched the signs, kept the guns and then, around noon, marched the few blocks to the General Assembly in what RPD still considers not-a-protest, despite what the protestors themselves said.

But, it seems, everyone except the Raleigh police knew exactly what this was: a “call to arms,” according to an organizers’ Facebook page, a “boogaloo” — which is weird, fanboy slang for the next civil war, jargonized into bastardizations like “blue igloo” or “big luau.” In a sly wink to their cute, little code word, some of the protestors were wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Ordinarily, the editors of the City Beat would be praising officers for their de-escalation tactics, but for some reason when it comes to dealing with a group that supposedly seeks conflict with law enforcement, the editors want police to ratchet up their use of force and crack some skulls. Weird how that works, isn’t it?

I don’t know effective these armed protestors are in terms of persuading the public to their cause, but I do know that these particular protestors, even the ones wearing Hawaiian shirts, cooperated with police instead of trying to kick off a civil war. The City Beat editors apparently would have preferred that cops just start banging away at the protestors instead of telling them how to comply with the law.

We don’t have to look too far back to find the last time Raleigh police shot a citizen brandishing a gun: It was on March 11. His name is Javier Torres, a 26-year-old person of color, and a Raleigh officer shot him in the abdomen after seeing a gun in Torres’ hand.

So, while we’re talking about the First Amendment, and the Second Amendment, we would do well to remember the Fourteenth Amendment, which deals with equal treatment under the law.

Javier Torres wasn’t shot for having a gun. He was shot after he raised the gun at a police officer, in an incident captured on the officer’s body camera. Here’s what happened, according to Raleigh police chief Cassandra Deck-Brown.

Police responded to a 911 call after the caller reported a man “flashing” a gun in a group of eight men outside a restaurant at 1030 N. Rogers Lane near New Bern Avenue, at about 6:40 p.m. March 10.

When Senior Officer J. Posthumus arrived and tried to speak with the man, who was leaving the group with a pizza box, the man ran, according to the report. Posthumus ran after him and other officers followed in their patrol cars.

The man, later identified as 26-year-old Javier Torres, ran across Rogers Lane and down Rogers Farm Drive toward Kingsborough Estates, a mobile home community.

Posthumus repeatedly ordered him to drop the gun that he could see pinned under his left arm, the report states.

“As Mr. Torres reached the dead end of Rogers Farm Drive, he dropped the pizza box and Officer Posthumus saw his right hand reach across the front of his body,” the report states. “He then saw the firearm in Mr. Torres’ right hand as he entered a foot path at the dead end of Rogers Farm Drive.”

By this time, Officer J.E. Byrd had arrived and headed to Duckling Way, at the dead end in case Torres ran that way, according to the report. When Torres emerged from the foot path, he was about 10 to 15 feet from Byrd.

“By this time, Mr. Torres had the handgun in his right hand,” the report states. “When Officer Byrd first saw the gun in Mr. Torres’ right hand, it was down by his right side. Officer Byrd then saw Mr. Torres raise the gun in his direction.”

“Officer Byrd fired one shot, which struck Mr. (Torres) in the abdomen, causing him to drop the gun and fall to the ground,” the report states.

Oh, by the way, the gun that Torres was carrying had an obliterated serial number (which is a no-no) and he’s now facing multiple charges in the incident. Torres’ story sounds nothing like the armed protest that the City Beat editors find so objectionable, starting with the fact that Torres took off running from the cops instead of talking to them as the protestors did. The editors of the North Carolina may have taken aim at Raleigh police in their editorial, but they only ended up shooting themselves in the foot with their arguments.