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Open Carry Advocates to Protest Rifle-Carrying Troy Teen's Arrest in Birmingham

Group organizes an informal demonstration against Sean Combs' April 13 arrest and plans to speak out at the June 11 City Commission meeting.

A group of open carry advocates plan to make their sentiments known about the during a protest at the June 11 Birmingham City Commission meeting.

after he was discovered carry a M1 Garande rifle on South Old Woodward Avenue. The rifle — — was loaded with one round in the chamber.

Though 18 and legally able to carry the rifle, police say Combs refused to show identification when asked and was arrested for brandishing a firearm, disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer.

At the time, police say Combs looked "young" and they weren't sure he was old enough to carry the weapon.

However, advocates of Michigan's open carry laws are up in arms over the arrest. In a plan that informally blossomed on the online forum OpenCarry.org, local open carry advocates plan to protest the arrest, noting it's not just about the Second Amendment — it's about Combs' civil rights.

"He wasn't committing a crime," said Jeff Kroll, an Eastpointe resident who helped organize the protest on OpenCarry.org. "No matter how you feel on the gun issue, it's frightening that the police would do that."

"(Combs) didn't do anything illegal," Kroll added. "The police arrested him because they didn't approve ... People get caught up on the rifle issue, but they're not seeing the forest for the trees. If they can arrest you for one activity, they can arrest you for anything."

Chief Don Studt said whether or not the case moves forward at this point is up to the courts. Combs was arraigned in and . However, Studt said he still stands by his officers.

"I understand the open carry law completely," he said. "But I still stand by the officers. Absolutely they were right."

However, according to Combs' attorney Jim Makowski, their team will be filing a motion soon to dismiss the case based on the constitutionality of the police stop.

"This is not necessarily a Second Amendment issue," Makowski said Wednesday. "This is a freedom of expression issue (and) the law is on our side, I feel."

The group organizing the protest has contacted Makowski and Combs' family about the event, and Makowski said he plans on attending though they're not endorsing the protest. Makowski said Combs, a senior at Troy High School whom he described as a "solid young man" who's a little uncomfortable with the publicity, probably won't be there.

Kroll stressed that the protest will be in favor of all open carry laws. He noted that openly carrying long guns — such as Combs' rifle — can be controversial and most open carry advocates stick to smaller weapons that can be concealed.

Still, Kroll said that under Michigan law, a rifle was the only kind of gun Combs was able to legally carry because of his age. According to Philip Hofmeister, president of Michigan Open Carry Inc., Combs was in his right though the group does not advocate openly carrying long guns.

The protest is scheduled to begin around 4:30 p.m. June 11 at  in Birmingham, where the group — Kroll said he expects around a dozen people from southeast Michigan to attend — plans to order pizza and hang out.

At 7:15 p.m., they plan to walk over to together to attend that night's City Commission meeting. Kroll said members of the group plan to speak during the public comment period of the meeting. Protest members are welcome to carry a weapon, Kroll said.

Chief Studt said although no one has contacted him about the planned protest, he doesn't have a problem with the group or its plans.

"I don't anticipate any confrontations," he said. "We're not looking for any problems and I'm sure they're not looking for any problems either."

The bus guy May 28, 2012 at 02:26 AM
You are right. People, including the officials involved, seem to forget that this individual was doing nothing illegal. It is not about feeling or emotions, it's a matter of law. Plain and simple. This young man will walk. He has retained excellent knowledgeable council. The officers involved and the prosecutor will be made to look like fools in court, if the charges are not dropped first.
ClassAct4 May 28, 2012 at 05:15 AM
While Michigan doesn't have a specific stop and identify statute, courts will give police leway if probable cause is present. The perp's youthful appearance led the officer to surmize a person under 18 was carrying, a crime was being commited, hence stop and identify was appropriate. If the perp showed id, he would have been allowed on his way. This case begs the question of why Michigan is not a de facto stop and identify state.
Shaun McElroy May 28, 2012 at 06:19 PM
The young man is not a "perp" he was acting within the law hence he did not "Perp" any crime. His "appearance is also not enough to force an ID out of him. The presumption of innocene must stand if he was not acting in an unlawful manner. His appearance is simply not enough to rise to the level of Reasonable Articulate Suspicion. At worst you could call this a profile issue similar to being singled out as a spanish or african american in a hoody. Looking young and and having a slung rifle without appearing to be breaking any laws dose not constitute RAS in my opinion. Also MI is not a defacto stop and ID state because there is no law that says you must ID yourself when open carrying a long gun or a handgun, in fact you do not even need ID when doing so. The officers could have simply had a short conversation with him and left him alone, however when the were challenged they didn't like it and charged him with a few crimes and hoped something would stick. Appearance alone is not enough.
ClassAct4 May 28, 2012 at 10:38 PM
"Appearance alone is not enough." Reasonable minds may differ. I look at this picture and see a 14 year old. The legal process will make the determination, I am merely pointing out the opposite point of view.
Shaun McElroy May 29, 2012 at 12:28 AM
I see your point, but he still should not have been treated the way he was. He was in "contempt of cop" and when they didn't get there way they stamped their feet slapped their thighs and broke the law. Civil liberties can't be tossed out the window because of the way you look. A great many truths depend on ones point of view. I have been in contempt of cop also, and know first hand how rude and arrogant they can be, even before I refuse to ID myself. Add my refusal to cooperate and do what I am told pushes some cops right off the rocker. This can be a very scary situation whe you have officers trying to force you to ID and rude behavior should not be encouraged. There have been times when I was asked for ID I provided it and times I haven't because of the poor attitude of the officer. We need to remember that he was not breaking any law, stood his ground and was arrested because of it.

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