Last night, firearms were drawn on me and I was forcibly removed from a vigil in remembrance of hate crime victims. Some of the other people at the vigil judged me based on the color of my skin and my attire to be a threat and called the police reporting that I had a firearm and was making threatening gestures. The officers cuffed me, searched me finding no firearm, and then placed me into the back of a police cruiser for more than half an hour while they “sorted it out” and came to the conclusion I was a threat to no one.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 5, 2012
** Campus Police Detain and Draw Weapons on Student Activist for Wearing Empty Holster to Trayvon Martin Vigil **
Student now faces possible charges of academic misconduct
Columbus, Ohio – Ohio State University Police detained and drew their weapons on student-activist Mike Newbern for demonstrating his support for gun rights by wearing an empty holster to a candlelight vigil for Trayvon Martin on Wednesday.
Newbern, the president of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry, was taken forcibly into police custody just after 8:30 p.m., while he was standing at the front of the crowd wearing an empty holster, which was clearly visible on his belt, and with his hands crossed in front of his chest.
A police report released on Thursday indicates two officers drew their firearms before approaching Newbern and removing him from the vigil. They searched and questioned Newbern and confiscated his personal belongings, including his empty holster and camera case, before placing him handcuffed in the back of a cruiser for 30 minutes. Newbern was released at 9:07 p.m. but was informed by police that the field investigation would be forwarded to the university’s Committee of Academic Misconduct where he could be charged with disorderly conduct.
Newbern, who is a certified firearms safety instructor, said on Thursday he decided to attend the vigil to exercise his First Amendment right to demonstrate in favor of Ohio’s concealed carry laws. He said he suspects’ campus police and students harassed him because he is the leader of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry, a group Ohio State University President Gordon Gee has publically described as “vigilante.”
On Tuesday, for example, President Gee expressed his continued opposition to the right for students to conceal carry on the Ohio State University Campus.
“You and I can debate that all day long and you have clear arguments,” Gee said, addressing his remarks to Newbern. “But, I am in charge and we are not going to do it.”
“We are very vocal in our struggle and I have become the face of our cause,” Newbern said. “By invoking the most violent and most vivid imagery possible, they attempt to paint our progress towards self-defense as anything other than the natural rights that they are. And in this instance, the administration’s toxic dialogue ran to its natural conclusion, which could have been prevented through more civil discourse.”