With the country on edge the way it is at the moment, there’s an expectation that any protest involving Black Lives Matter demonstrators and pro-police supporters is going to end poorly. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case this weekend in Seaside, Oregon, where Second Amendment supporters rallied across the street from a brewery whose owner recently spoke out against open carry in the city.
Seaside Brewery owner Jimmy Griffin had a packed house of supporters on Saturday as the gun rights activists gathered for an open carry rally at nearby City Hall. Rather than open warfare breaking out on the streets of the small town, however, both sides vocally exercised their First Amendment rights in loud, but peaceful, protests.
Second Amendment supporter Brandon T. Williams, a candidate for the City Commission in Warrenton, said local gun owners have a right to peaceful assembly.
“I think it’s important that both sides, all groups involved, are able to freely exercise their inalienable rights,” Williams said. “If it’s a group of conservative patriots on one side, on one side of the street and if it’s a group of antifascists/Black Lives Matter on the street, and they want to be armed, they’re exercising their rights. There doesn’t have to be an exchange.”
While the event was peaceful, there were occasional one-on-one encounters that led to raised voices.
Participants on both sides deescalated the conflict, stepping in when confrontations threatened to get out of hand.
According to the Seaside Signal no arrests were made, no citations were handed out, and police didn’t have to intervene. It sounds like there may even have been some actual conversations between individuals on both sides of the street. While I doubt any minds were changed in the discussions, the fact that the protest and counter-protest came off peacefully is worth noting in and of itself.
“It’s good,” Griffin said from the brewery parking lot. “There was a great vibe here and lots of people I’ve never seen before showing up and taking a stand for their community.”
Griffin thanked the police for their support.
“I don’t think they could have done a better job than they did. What happened today was a healthy back and forth exchange and dialogue between two groups with two different opinions. That’s America.”
I’m actually encouraged to see stories like this, as well as the fact that the much larger protests in Louisville this weekend also came off without any major incidents.
Ironically, while Griffin had expressed concern that open-carry activists were driving away customers, it sounds like Seaside Brewery was packed on Saturday. Griffin probably won’t be reaching out to the organizers of the open-carry rally to see if they’ll come back next weekend, but the presence of dozens of gun owners exercising their Second Amendment rights may actually have helped his business over the Labor Day weekend by bringing in supporters to grab a pint or two.