Police in Dearborn, Michigan, arrested a pair of open-carry gun advocates who walked into police headquarters on February 5. Both reportedly wore body armor, while one of them wore a face mask and bore a long gun slung across his chest. Members of the public fled from the station, once they saw the armed man enter the building.

James Baker (24) carried a holstered Glock pistol on his hip, besides the rifle slung across his chest. Brandon Vreeland (40) was unarmed. Both of the men had several cameras in their possession, including cell phones for livestreaming the event. After posting a $1,500 bond on the evening of February 5, Vreeland told the Detroit Free Press “We audit police to see how well they honor the Constitution and people’s rights.” He said that their intention was to illustrate abuse of power in what he characterized as a “totalitarian state.”

They recorded two videos to illustrate their experiences. In the first, they recorded a first encounter with Dearborn police where they protested that they had done nothing wrong. In the second video, they recorded their entry into the police station and confrontation with officers there. Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said in a statement today, “I find this behavior totally unacceptable and irresponsible." Haddad added, "This is not a 2nd Amendment issue for me. We had members of the public in our lobby that fled in fear for their safety as these men entered our building."

Haddad continued, saying, "I want to express my appreciation for the many calls of support we’ve received from the community including a call from the president of Michigan Open Carry, Inc. who made it clear that he and his organization stand with law enforcement and unequivocally condemn the actions that took place in our lobby this past Sunday." Haddad said. In a statement, Tom Lambert, who presides over Michigan Open Carry, Inc., said, "Let us be clear, Michigan Open Carry, Inc. in no way supports the actions of these individuals."

Lambert said, "It is our belief that their actions were reckless, and primarily designed to draw attention and a response." Vreeland and Baker had been stopped by Dearborn police earlier in the day. In a video that appeared on YouTube, they are depicted being stopped by police. Vreeland is seen telling an officer, “We’ve broken no laws. This is an illegal detention.” "We're going to file a complaint because we were illegally pulled over," Baker says on the video. "We felt a little afraid we were pulled over so we figured we better protect ourselves."

Michigan state law allows persons to carry a firearm in public as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed.

Once Baker and Vreeland entered the police station, two officers aimed their service weapons at Baker while shouting commands, "Dude, put that on the ground!" commanded one officer. Then another shouted, "Put it on the ground!"  Together, the officers shouted, "Put it on the ground! On the ground now!"
 
Baker then dropped his camera. It continued to produce a live stream video Facebook. An officer shouted, "Put it on the ground or you are dead!," which was followed by "I will shoot you! I will put a round in you, sir! Put that rifle on the ground!"
 
Another officer asked, "What the hell is the matter with you?" When Baker told the officers to be calm, one of them shouted, "Put it down! Barrel down, set it down, step back! You're carrying a sidearm as well."
 
Baker replied, "It's all legal, sir." The officer responded, "Sir, drop the f******* gun, on your side, now!" Baker then asks the officers what is wrong with them, while issuing profanities. He then claimed to have come to file a complaint. The officers continued to shout warnings to Vreeland to step back. 

Officers seized an AR-15, an AK-47 style rifle, Glock 19 pistol with additional magazines, an AP-14 firearm, a rifle magazine containing 47 rounds, as well as body armor and ballistic vests, and several pieces of camera equipment. Baker is charged with breaching the peace, failure to cooperate with police, and masking his identity by obscuring his face at the police station. He has not been arraigned on the charges, which are misdemeanors. For his part, Vreeland is charged with breaching the peace, obstructing police, and failure to cooperate. Both men are free on $1,500 bond while they await arraignment on the charges. Dearborn police have police confiscated Vreeland’s car and contents, including his rifle, cameras, and cell phone.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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