Dozens of armed citizens poured into the downtown area of Eminence, Missouri, over the weekend after Sheriff Darren Brawley says “credible threats” were made against members of the sheriff’s office, as well as threats to the county courthouse and the county jail.
Brawley told local TV station KY3 that the threats began after a local family posted a plea on Facebook for a new investigation into the 2018 death of a man named Robbie Crites. Two years ago, the Missouri Highway Patrol ruled Crites’ death an accidental drowning, but Crites’ mother believes that her son’s death was never properly investigated.
His mother, Angela King says she made the post a week ago.
She says her intentions were not to cause an uproar.
“I wanted everybody to see what me and my family lived thorough the last two years. I wanted them to see that Darrin Brawley did everything wrong,” King exclaimed.
King says a few moms from Springfield answered her post and proposed a peaceful protest at the courthouse.
But once the idea gained more controversy online King feared showing up would’ve been a bad idea.
“I really would’ve loved to have been there today. I feel kind of like I failed Robbie today because I didn’t go, but in a certain sense it was for my protection,” King added.
As it turns out, there was no violence in Eminence over the weekend. At least a hundred armed citizens, some from as far away as St. Louis, turned out in the downtown area to protect the courthouse and members of the small sheriff’s department, which consists of Sheriff Brawley and just three deputies.
Sheriff Brawley says if protesters would’ve shown up, they would’ve been protected.
“They have the same constitutional rights as you and I have and we would uphold that. If it came down to protecting those folks, yes we would,” Brawley explained.
People came from all over Missouri to show support for law enforcement and to protect property.
Mike Godwin traveled just over 100 miles from Marble Hill, Mo. to join the crowds.
“I will stay here as long as I’m needed and I feel that I’m needed and I’ll come back again if I’m needed,” Godwin said.
“Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. We would not mind for a protest to be here for the right causes and the right reasons, but a riot is not that,” local resident Joseph Hartman told KY3.
Thankfully there was no riot, though whether that was because of the large number of armed citizens on hand or not is still an open question. Perhaps a peaceful protest would have taken place on Saturday, or maybe, like so many other demonstrations we’ve seen around the country, what would have started as a legitimate protest would have devolved into widespread destruction.
Regardless of the reasons, I’m sure the residents of Eminence, Missouri, are thrilled that their small town was spared any violence, and it sounds like if the sheriff needs any backup in the future, there are plenty of armed citizens willing to stand up and defend the community if need be.