Gun-Carrying Group Gathers in Birmingham Park to Support Troy Teen
A dozen open carry advocates assemble at Shain Park on Monday to support 18-year-old Sean Combs, who was arrested in Birmingham in April for carrying a loaded M1 Garand rifle.
From a distance, the small group of men gathering, talking and grilling under an awning at Shain Park in downtown Birmingham seems innocuous.
Upon closer inspection, however, it soon becomes clear they're all openly carrying a fully-loaded firearm. Or two. Or, in some cases, three.
"I wanted to come out and show my support," paramedic and Clio resident Ken Herman said, his Glock 17 pistol fastened to his right hip. "(Openly carrying) is perfectly legal and acceptable and makes society a safer, more polite place."
Herman was one of about a dozen open carry advocates who were at the park by late Monday afternoon to support 18-year-old Troy resident Sean Combs, who was arrested in April after he was found openly carrying his loaded M1 Garand rifle through downtown Birmingham.
"I'm in support of anyone who gets into trouble for doing something legal," Troy resident and open carry advocate Dan Edinger said, his Springfield XD 9 pistol resting on his hip and his AR 15 rifle slung over his shoulder. A Kel Tec pistol stays concealed in the former Marine's pocket.
"I want to bring attention to the fact that open carry – whether rifle or pistol – is legal in Michigan."
Organized by Eastpointe resident Jeff Kroll, the informal rally first began as an idea on OpenCarry.org, which spread Combs' story around the online forum. Open carry advocates on the site believe the teen's arrest is not just violating the Second Amendment — it's violating his civil rights.
"What this city did here was illegal all the way," Huron Township resident and open carry advocate Mike Aquilina said. "(Combs) did nothing wrong, and (Birmingham) is going to lose."
Combs, who told Troy Patch last week he appreciated the support from the group, did not attend the rally while Patch was present.
Later in the evening, the group attended the Monday night meeting of the Birmingham City Commission, where nearly a dozen protesters spoke during the meeting's open comment session.
"I urge the commission not to ruin the life of a young man for the action of an over-zealot police offier," said John Roshek, a Clinton Township resident and president of the Citizen League for Self Defense.
Roshek noted police officers are asked to uphold the US and state constitutions upon being swore in."I fear the words we swear to when we take office are just words."
Kroll told the commissioner Combs was, if anything, "in contempt of cop" that Friday night.
"What happened is very antithetical to the concept of freedom," Kroll said.
Birmingham Police Chief Don Studt said whether the case moves forward at this point is up to the courts. Combs was arraigned in 48th District Court and came before Judge Marc Baron for a pre-trial hearing on May 15.
According to Combs' attorney, Jim Makowski, their team has filed a motion to dismiss the case based on the constitutionality of the police stop.