FLINT, Michigan -- A spokesperson for a national organization that supports the open carry of firearms said Flint Police violated the rights of a man who authorities asked to leave the State of the City Address at City Hall because he was wearing a pistol strapped to his side in plain view.
Jackson Citizen Patroit | File PhotoSpokespeople from groups that advocate open carry firearm rights said Flint Police violated the rights of an Occupy Flint protestor when they asked him to leave the State of the City Address on Monday at City Hall because he was carrying a firearm.
"This is clearly a violation of the law," said John Pierce, spokesperson and co-founder of Internet-based OpenCarry.org. "The city has, in fact, opened themselves up to a lawsuit."
Jason-Michael, an Occupy Flint activist, was approached by police and was told he had to leave the meeting on Monday night because he was wearing the pistol.
He left the meeting without incident.
Flint Police Chief Alvern Lock said after the meeting that the city stopped allowing guns because of the volatile nature of recent meetings.
"We decided to err on the side of caution" Lock said.
Pierce said that Lock's department's actions went beyond just deciding who could carry a gun.
"He decided who could or could not attend a city council meeting," said Pierce. "He chose a status of people, a class of people, and excluded them."
Pierce added that the police action was no different than saying that people under a certain age or minorities could not attend council meetings.
"Open carry is the law of the land across the United States," said Pierce.
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Rob Harris, vice president of Michigan Open Carry, a group that aims to educate residents and municipalities on gun laws and an offshoot of OpenCarry.org, said that anyone over the age of 18 can legally openly carry a pistol as long as the firearm is registered to them.
Harris also said that the open carry exceptions do not pertain to those with concealed pistol licenses.