Backlash against armed citizen turnouts to deter violent protests

Armed citizens have turned out in Washington communities as a deterrent to violent protests and looting. (By permission from reader “Vince.”)

Backlash is beginning to mount against armed Washington State citizens who have been showing up in such distant locations as Kirkland and Snohomish in the Puget Sound region to the Tri-Cities in the state’s far south-central area around the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers.

The Tri-City area encompasses Richland, Kennewick and Pasco.

The YakTriNews is reporting that at least 7,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that officials in the Tri-Cities area take action against what they say are “illegal armed militias.” Washington statute appears to prohibit armed groups of people to gather.

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Here’s what the state statute says:

“No organized body other than the recognized militia organizations of this state, armed forces of the United States, students of educational institutions where military science is a prescribed part of the course of instruction or bona fide veterans organizations shall associate themselves together as a military company or organize or parade in public with firearms: PROVIDED, That nothing herein shall be construed to prevent authorized parades by the organized militia of another state or armed forces of foreign countries. Any person participating in any such unauthorized organization shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

In the Tri-Cities area, a group calling itself Defend The Tri (DTT) has provided volunteer armed security in several locations while demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25 have been holding what they insist are peaceful gatherings.

“We do not see these armed groups as protecting us,” the petition asserts. “They will not be at protests with our consent. We have expressed to them that they are not welcome. Their stance goes against our explicitly peaceful mission, and we want to be clear that we will view their presence at our protests as intimidation and in violation of our 1st amendment rights. Should the police and sheriff departments of your various cities and counties allow these armed gangs to attend peaceful free speech demonstrations, we will be suing the cities and counties involved for violating our civil rights.”

So far, DTT members also appear to have been peaceful, and it may be one group’s First Amendment rights versus the rights of another group.

The Tri-City Herald is reporting another demonstration is scheduled this Saturday at 11 a.m. headlined “No Justice, No Peace: One Unified Protest.”

This raises the question about the “No Peace” part of the message. What does that mean? Does it amount to a threat of trouble?

The appearance of armed citizens in Washington and Coeur d’Alene in neighboring Idaho due east from Spokane has arguably been a deterrent to trouble, say proponents. But it has resulted in backlash, apparently from far-left activists who dislike and feel threatened by open carry.

And in Snohomish, they have pressured the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department to replace the police chief in that contract city because the former commander apparently was not critical of the armed citizen effort to protect that community’s business district after a credible threat was allegedly received. Just because no violent demonstration occurred, critics of the armed turnout apparently believe it was not necessary.

However, there is no way to tell whether the armed turnout didn’t actually deter violent protesters.

The Snohomish group also wants Mayor John Kartak to resign because he supported former Chief Keith Rogers, a lieutenant with the sheriff’s department.


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