UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): C.J. Grisham, President of Open Carry Texas, would like to clarify that this was a “mutual split” between the two groups because of differing opinions about how to move forward with getting open-carry legislation passed.
FORT WORTH (KRLD) — After staging a controversial protest at a Jack in the Box in Fort Worth, a North Texas gun rights group has been kicked out of the state wide organization it belongs to.
Members with Open Carry Tarrant County didn’t notify police before they showed up at the fast-food restaurant last week with rifles in full sight and no signs indicating what they were doing.
“Officers spoke with Jack-in-the-Box employees who reported that they feared for their lives and believed they were being robbed. They locked themselves inside a freezer for protection out of fear the rifle-carrying men would rob them,” reads a statement from the Fort Worth Police Department. “The demonstration had no signage that would have alerted anyone to their real purpose, and to our knowledge they did not attempt to contact anyone in the Fort Worth Police Department to advise us prior to the demonstration.”
C-J. Grisham, the president of Open Carry Texas, says what the group did was in clear violation of their bylaws (one of which is to contact police before a protest), so they’ve cut off all ties with the Tarrant County chapter.
“It’s one of those things that we’ve been in discussions with them about since the Arlington ordeal with the city council. I think the Jack in the Box incident was probably the [culmination] of that discussion,” says Grisham. “It’s two different groups, we wish them the best but we just had to make that distinction.”
It doesn’t come as a surprise to Arlington City Councilmember Charlie Parker, who has had run-ins with the Tarrant County group in the past and says they act more like a gang than an activist group.
“That is essentially how they’ve been acting, they’ve been spanked by the statewide group and rightfully so,” says Parker. “They have no moral compass whatsoever — there’s no integrity or honor or respect in this particular group.”
But Kory Watkins with Open Carry Tarrant County says critics of their group are just blowing a lot of hot air.
“Its just people blowing stuff out of proportion,” Watkins says. “We’re comfortable with the police departments, there’s no need to call them anymore… I walk every day here in Mansfield and I don’t call them no more. I have many police officers personal cell phone numbers.”
But is the groups relationship with police really as “comfortable” as Watkins describes?
“I don’t know about that. He doesn’t have my cell phone number and I’m the PIO,” says Thadd Penkala with the Mansfield Police Department. Penkala says what the group is doing isn’t illegal, but it would still help if they would at least tip off the department before staging a protest. “We ask them to call as a courtesy.”
Despite all the controversy surrounding his group, Watkins says they’re still bound and determined to carry on.
“We’re still going to keep doing what we’re doing, walking three times a week and we’re going to keep working towards more gun rights in Texas.”
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