Open carry firearm demonstrators are complaining that police treated them like criminals Thursday night as the group staged a protest with their guns.
An email from Sgt. Ray Bush, with the Fort Worth Police Department, said Jack in the Box employees at the South Freeway location on Sycamore School Road, were scared about the armed men protesting outside of the restaurant.
“They locked themselves inside a freezer for protection out of fear the rifle-carrying men would rob them,” the email stated. “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.”
Fort Worth police responded to the situation as if it was a robbery.
“I’m upset that that many officers had to arrive on the scene,” said demonstrator Edwin Haros.
Haros said that more than a dozen officers arrived at the restaurant where the group of rifle-carrying men planned a protest.
“I would estimate around 10 squad cars showed up, some with two per squad car. I believe we counted more than 15 officers showed up on scene,” Haros said.
Haros took pictures of the crowd of Fort Worth officers who greeted the demonstrators outside the restaurant.
The open carry demonstrator said he carries his semi-automatic Smith and Wesson rifle with him at all times, even in public when attending demonstrations with his friends.
“Everyone was nice at the Jack in the Box. We ordered, received our food, walked back out,” Haros said.
The demonstrators are pushing for the right to carry handguns in public.
“We’re not breaking the laws," Haros said. "We’re not here to hurt anybody. We’re not trying to alarm anybody. We’re doing this because it’s our constitutional right."
Haros, who believes openly carrying firearms helps police, said citizens should know that the demonstrations will continue.
“It’s just for safety purposes," Haros said. "Officers can’t be there at all times. We understand that. They can only do so much.”
An email from Bush stated that there are other ways the demonstrators can help police in the future.
“We respect the rights of all citizens to peacefully protest and the right to bear arms. However, we cannot stress enough how a simple phone call to police prior to this demonstration and the use of easily visible signage could have avoided unnecessarily alarming the public,” the email stated.
Haros said his group would honor that request.
The group's presence at a Home Depot parking lot Friday night drew no police attention.