Even the Australian Women’s National Soccer Team weighed in on Saturday’s open carry rally at the Alamo. As Kolten Parker of the San Antonio Express-News reported, soccer player Heather Garriock, who was in town for a friendly match, was stunned at the sight of an estimated 500 protesters with shotguns, rifles, and AR-15s. “It’s surreal. You only see this in the movies,” Parker quoted her as saying.
Australian midfielders weren’t the only people with opinions about the rally, which attracted a lot of attention. Texas Monthly‘s own Paul Burka had thoughts about the rally the day before the event, explaining that despite his love of all things Texas, the gun culture left him cold:
If someone handed me a flier that declared, “Get your guns & Head to San Antonio,” I would probably get in my car and head for Dallas as fast as I could.
Burka’s post went on to discuss the “paranoia of the gun-owner,” and concluded that “there is no chance that gun owners are in danger of losing their Second Amendment rights.” In the comments section, however, this was met with some opposition—including from commissioner of the General Land Office and Lieutenant Governor hopeful Jerry Patterson, who spoke at the event.
Paul, Nothwistanding the fact your narrative has some legitimate points, the “nobody’s gonna take our guns” argument isn’t supported by the fact that the City of San Antonio has an unconstitutional and unlawful city ordinance against the possession of loaded firearms in the city limits, as well as other unlawful provisions. They also arrest folks for possession of long guns on “disorderly conduct” charges.
The event was held in response to the non-custodial arrest of three men openly carrying rifles at a San Antonio Starbucks in August, which, as Patterson notes, did involve police citing them for disorderly conduct. Over at Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, an Associated Press story on the rally ran with the headline amended to include the words, “That’s What America’s About,” a quote from an Arkansas man who was surprised, but pleased, to find himself in the middle of the rally.
The notion that the rally represented the best of the American spirit wasn’t limited to the spectator, either. Libertarian talk show host Alex Jones, who spoke after Patterson, explained the purpose of the rally in his typically impassioned style, according to Carolyn Jones of Al Jazeera America.
Wearing polarizing sunglasses and a weapon slung across his back, he launched into a finger-pointing tirade that both energized the crowd and broke his voice. “You have a right to self defense, and that’s what this is all about!” he shouted. “There is a fight worldwide to take your guns … the globalists are accelerating a program to take over … They want all our guns. They are not misguided liberals. They are authoritarians who want to make us their slaves.”
The line between “the City of San Antonio has an unconstitutional and unlawful city ordinance against the possession of loaded firearms in the city limits” and “they are authoritarians who want to make us their slaves” seems rather thin when the people who say them are both scheduled speakers at the same event, speaking to the same armed audience. This seemed to be a concern for Patterson, who actively distanced himself from Jones in his speech. “I’m not one of these people that thinks someone’s gonna come knocking on my door and take my guns,” Christopher Hooks reported in the Texas Observer. Hooks spoke to both Patterson and Jones after the rally to discuss the gap between their positions:
Afterward, I asked Patterson if it bothered him to share a stage with a man who argues that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by President George W. Bush.
“Yeah, it does. But you know, it’s really hard to push somebody off the stage. And, you know: they might have a problem sharing a stage with me.” He added, in response to Jones’ 9/11 charge: “I was a big fan of George W. Bush. He’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known.”
Patterson couldn’t push Alex Jones off the stage—and I wouldn’t want to be the one to try, either—but he still chose to get up on that stage in the first place. When I asked Jones about Patterson, there seemed to be less distance between the two.
“I like Jerry Patterson. I’ve known him for about 18 years. Since back when he was in the Legislature,” Jones said. “I’ve known him forever. He’s a really great guy. And he gave a really great, measured speech.” Later, he added: “A disarmed people are slaves.”
Hooks’s reporting included an exchange with a man identified as “Captain Mac,” who spent the rally with a sign showing his support for—among others—Greece’s fascist Golden Dawn party, the “National Socialist Movement,” and Ted Cruz, who probably wouldn’t be thrilled about the endorsement:
At this point, a fresh-faced young volunteer, noticing Captain Mac’s Ted Cruz sign, ambled over with a ballot petition. “You look like you would support Attorney General Greg Abbott in his race for governor,” the volunteer said.
“Absolutely,” said Captain Mac, taking pen in hand as he returned to his pitch. “We’re not fascist. We’re about Deutschland for Deutschlanders, and America for Americans.” The petition wrangler flashed a nervous look at my recorder, before correcting Captain Mac’s residency information and walking away.
It’s safe to say that if Patterson sought to distance himself from Alex Jones, Captain Mac is more radioactive still. Every rally brings out its share of people that the organizers wish would stay home, of course, and it’s no more reasonable to stereotype Captain Mac as the typical protester at the Alamo than it is to claim that whoever it was who yelled “Hail Satan” represented the reproductive rights demonstrators at the Capitol during this summer’s ongoing protest.
One can only imagine what the Australian Women’s National Soccer Team would have made of Captain Mac, but regardless of the extremes represented, the rally ultimately ended peacefully. Parker reported in the Express-News that police suspended the ordinance during the rally, and that when it was reinstated, protesters chose to observe it (though they didn’t seem thrilled).
A handful of rifle-toting activists returned to Alamo Plaza after the rally ended at 2 p.m., and were told by police they needed to stay the sidewalk or risk arrest. Deputy Chief Roy Waldhelm said police had suspended the ordinance during the rally, but put it back in place after most of the protesters had left.
That irked Ben Ralston, 31, who came in from Arlington for the rally and, along with several friends, had a brief standoff with Waldhelm and other police in the park before retreating to the sidewalk.
“I think it’s shameful that they suspended their city ordinance when they had all the national attention, but then when all the newspapers and national media and independent media left, that’s when they reinstated their unconstitutional city ordinance,” Ralston said.