At high noon Saturday, dozens of protesters gathered near the Beavercreek Walmart where John Crawford III was shot and killed by Officer Sean Williams.
After holding signs near the main entrance to Walmart, the protesters marched in to the store and congregated and talked about the shooting at the very spot where Beavercreek Police Officer Sean Williams gunned down a terrified and confused John Crawford.
The demonstration was protesting the fact that Crawford, an African American father, was fatally shot while doing nothing more than talking on the phone to the mother of his child, while holding an air pellet rifle he had planned on purchasing.
The militarized Beavercreek police reaction lead to another death, as Angela Williams had a heart attack, fleeing from the sound of office gun shots.
“This case is clearly related to open carry. Maybe John Crawford was not carrying a real firearm, but he was carrying what seemed to be a firearm and the overreaction of police in this instance is just completely outrageous,” Virgil Vaduva, the organizer of today’s protest explained.
“These guys stormed the store with fully automatic weapons and started shooting indiscriminately in a store full of people, creating panic. Angela Williams started running away after the shots rang out. It’s a serious problem,” Vaduva continued.
Since the shooting death of Crawford, various protesters have turned out to the large rallies and vigils, personally armed with legal firearms. At one of the first of such protests, a self-described member of the Anonymous “hacktivist” group could be seen holding a sign that pointed both to his “toy gun” and to his “real gun”.
This Saturday, less than 24 hours after the a large protest scheduled for Friday afternoon, the massive open carry protest, organized by Ohio Open Carry, saw dozens turn out with real assault weapons, not air rifles.
Virgil Vaduva, the man in charge of the group, says that the protest is not just about justice, but about educating the public and police alike about the law. Nothing that John Crawford did was illegal. In fact, police did not even have the right to confront him about anything he had done, and would not have had that right even if he was carrying an actual assault weapon like protesters did today, standing in the very place he lost his life to over-zealous police.
“Most people are not aware that it is legal to open carry a firearm in Ohio,” Virgil Vaduva said.
“You don’t need a permit, you don’t need a license, you can simply carry a firearm as long as it’s exposed and is not concealed in any way, it’s perfectly legal.”
“Whatever John did was perfectly legal carrying a so-called gun in the store or rifle,” Vaduva continued.
“This is really about education,” Vaduva added. “And I believe that this was a great injustice what happened here. I believe that someone needs to be held responsible. We’re not on some witch hunt here towards the police. I don’t believe all police officers are bad but clearly there needs to be more education when it comes to open carry.”
This rally and march was a historical first, as open carry protesters have typically not taken a stand for African Americans shot by police unjustly. But the City of Beavercreek and the Greater Dayton area has seen a lot of cross-over from people of all segments of society coming together to demand an end to the police war on African Americans.
(Article by Jackson Marciana and Zeidy David; all images via Counter Current News)