On Friday afternoon, a small crowd of activists assembled in the parking lot of Ohio Stadium. Clad in black and camouflage, all with pistols or AR-15s at their hips and one waving a large Pan-African flag, the small group walked to the Oval where they stood and engaged with passersby in a dialogue about gun regulation in America.
The group of about 10 people, which was not operating under a certain name and did not belong to a specific organization, was gathered by Kendall Arroyo, a veteran Air Force response force leader and open-carry firearm activist.
“I’m the one organizing this, but we actually don’t have an organization,” Arroyo said. “These are just friends, activists and people who have done these walks before that we just reached out to. We’re not part of an organization or anything like that.”
Arroyo said this was intentional and was directly in response to a letter to the editor published in The Lantern in December 2016, written by the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Department and signed by 12 professors.
The letter was published shortly after the December 2016 open-carry walk and addressed to President Drake and the Ohio State administration, and took issue with the open-carry walk that happened on campus just weeks after the violent incident on campus in November 2016 and was comprised of only white gun owners.
Specifically, the letter noted the people of color who are victims of gun violence every day were not present in the walk, and stated that they believed a double standard was at play, where minorities would surely not be allowed to perform a similar demonstration with firearms on campus.
“If you want to know the God-honest truth, we read the letter [to the editor] and we noticed that they basically said, ‘We don’t think a bunch of black people could be able to get away with something like this,’” Arroyo said. “This is not supposed to be a racial thing. We’re talking about second amendment rights for every law-abiding American citizen. Our race should not have to be a factor at all, and society says that we’re either supposed to be gunned down or incarcerated right now. And we’re here to show that that’s not the case, and now I invite them to figure out their next excuse.”
God Bless em.