NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Protesters gathered outside Newport News Police Headquarters Thursday evening to “exercise their Second Amendment right.”
Besides exercising their right, protesters also gathered to oppose a recent city ordinance regarding open-carry of firearms in Newport News.
The “Rally for Our Rights” protest began around 6 p.m. and ended at 9 p.m.
About 20 to 30 people stood in front of police headquarters to peacefully protest.
People in the group told 10 On Your Side they have different political views, but they said they can all agree the ordinance is an infringement on their Second Amendment rights.
The ordinance bans open carry inside city facilities, city parks and at city events. City Council passed the ordinance in July, but the protest comes after one of Thursday’s protesters, Mike Dunn, was arrested at a city park last week for openly carrying a firearm.
“Putting aside party lines, party differences, beliefs and everything to come together in support of the Second Amendment,” Dunn said.
The protesters said they won’t stand for what they say are unconstitutional laws.
On Thursday morning, Chief Steve Drew and Assistant Chief Eric Randall met with rally organizers to discuss event details.
“As always, NNPD’s priority is to be transparent and keep our citizens of this community safe,” reads a post on the NNPD Facebook page.
Drew addressed the crowd at the start of the rally.
“People have disagreements on both sides of gun rights. I understand that, whatever they may be, but the proper place to address those issues is in a courtroom in front of our elected officials, in the voting booth,” Drew told 10 On Your Side.
Members of Black Lives Matter 757 stood alongside protesters. Leader Japharii Jones said their presence was also a “social experiment.”
“We’re standing out here in unison and solidarity with our brothers but at the same time we do want to show there is a difference when it comes to a Black Lives Matter protest and a protest that is put together by individuals who are not Black lives,” Jones said.
However Chief Drew said that’s simply not true in Newport News. He welcomed any group to exercise their right to protest.
“I made it very clear to this group tonight as long as you’re not putting people in danger, putting people at risk, we will have a peaceful protest,” Drew said. “As long as we do it lawfully and not putting people in danger, we’re gonna cooperate and work things.”
Drew said NNPD is committed to ensuring safety for protesters and the public anytime there is a demonstration.
He also encouraged dialogue between groups and police.
The protesters said they’re considering marching about the issue in Richmond.
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