Update: While I'm still convinced it's a good idea to tell law-abiding citizens about how to get a gun permit, and a good idea to remind criminals that their prospective victims are not obliged to be defenseless, I no longer think the "Occupy Broad Ripple..." Facebook organizers are the the right folks for the job. Their behavior at the event itself was exemplary but there is too much of a cloud over prior activities of some members.
Tam has photos. So do I. We went up to the village, parked at Kroger and walked up to Qdoba for a snack, open-carrying. No problem.
We saw a few folks with flyers but it wasn't until we took a walk around a few blocks that we started meeting small groups or people, some open-carrying, handing out one-page flyers to anyone who'd accept them. No matter who walked by, they'd say hello and offer one. H'mm, seemed legit. Stopped for a longer chat with one group, very nice folks. We asked after the organizer, to learn, "He's kind of stepped back, he didn't want to distract from this effort."
We walked on and found John Hallgath himself with another small group, handing out flyers. He was personable, friendly; I saw him interact with a wide cross-section of Broad Ripple partiers and he was friendly to everyone. No, I didn't quiz him about the controversy; there'll be time to sort that out later. To my observation, he was not taking any sort of leadership role.
Tam and I went to Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns HQ (a tent canopy in a parking lot a little away from the Avenue). It was a well-run operation, with access to coffee and light snacks (and washrooms). Participants were required to show ID (and License to Carry Handgun, if they were armed) and to sign in and out. Among the rules, flyers were to be offered to anyone you could make contact with; participants were not to argue or debate, no matter what, "Just smile and say thanks;" and No Drinking, before or while signed in. We were also reminded that this was an informational event, not an exercise in vigilantism.
No hidden agenda. The flyer was a simple statement of facts. (I'll post a scan later). And -- welcome to Indiana -- what I saw, both as an observer and in an hour and a half of handing out flyers, was that it was well-received. A lot of people, maybe as many as half, walked on by (what'd you expect?); quite a few stopped and took flyers. I had one guy say, "Oh, no, I hate guns," but he was matter-of-fact about it; I smiled and said, "Have a nice night." Several young men mentioned their martial arts prowess. (Tam started humming "King Fu Fighting" after one had gone on." Tsk). Oh, and three cheers for the partiers: hundreds of fliers were handed out; I saw three (3) thrown on the sidewalk -- and I was looking (and picking up), as Not Littering is important when you're doing this kind of outreach.
I think it worked. There were a lot of IMPD officers in evidence, many of them next to bar bouncers; I saw one "No Guns" sign, handwritten, posted at what used to be The Wellington, and the doorman (bouncer) at The Vogue was wanding everyone before admitting them. (Good for them -- if you're going to have a "no weapons policy," don't be half-hearted about it). After Tam and I had signed out and were headed back to my car, one officer we'd walked past several times time asked me, in a friendly way, what I was carrying. (My very, very shiny .38 Super Colt 1911A1, pre-Series 70). He thought that was cool, and asked if I got to shoot it much. --Told him not as often as I'd like, but I tried to keep in practice. A nice chat.
Between Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns participants and IMPD, there were probably a half-dozen firearms per block -- and it was a quiet night in Broad Ripple.
And perhaps food for thought for the goblin that's been haunting Broad Ripple. Dude, we're spiking your trees. The next one...might fight back.
Update: One local TV station reports (on the air but not on the web) there was a counterprotest by a group handing out flyers covering some of the same questions about Mr. Hallgarth that I've looked into (and have yet to resolve). I did not see them -- but I will note that that is another example of freedom of expression. The evening passed peacefully, as I expected. Another station quotes one person claiming to have received a three-page flyer with some kind of racist message. I didn't see anything of that sort -- and I was looking; with apologies to Barney Fife, that sort of thing really does need to be nipped in the bud, exposed and publicly shamed. More: I've seen the "flyer" in question, five pages covering the same sort of info on John Hallgarth Messrs. Ogden and Small have found; the most recent is dated 2006. Probably from the counter-protest. (John, seriously, it's time to step up and say yea or nay about your current political beliefs. Lots of people have questionable pasts -- who are you now?)
Update: Even more.
1 week ago