Anger brews over 'Open Carry' protest in Fifth Ward

Open Carry Texas

HOUSTON -- There was a contentious gathering in the heart of Houston's Fifth Ward on Wednesday over a group's plans to hold a gun protest there on Saturday.

"You are not welcome here today or Saturday," shouted one person in attendance.

On the one side sat stake holders in the largely African American community concerned about the demonstration. On the other side were members of Open Carry Texas, an organization fighting to change the state's gun laws.

"We think that an armed society is a polite society," said Open Carry's C.J. Grisham. "We want to encourage citizens in the Fifth Ward to take back their community from the criminal element."

The meeting was organized to discuss Open Carry's plans for the upcoming demonstration. In the past, participants have openly displayed their shotguns in protest over current state laws that prohibit Texans from openly carrying handguns. And even though the gathering began with handshakes, emotions rapidly boiled over as opponents questioned the group's motives and accused them of being racist.

"We have a bad history with white men who would come into the 5th ward with guns in the name of a lynch mob," said activist Quanell X.

Houston police stood watch as both sides squared off. Some Open Carry opponents displayed their own weapons and urged the group to cancel their plans.

"All they're trying to do is provoke these young people," said Kathy Daniels, the president of the local civic club. "We're trying to settle this. We don't want them here period."

But organizers showed no signs of backing down.

"If people tell you not to exercise a right, do you not exercise that right," asked Grisham.

He said members of his group would discuss possibly altering some of their tactics but still planned to gather there on Saturday.


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