Protester arrested. Are you still surprised by the news? Before you make any judgments, let's look at what happened in the Portland rally below.
Protester Arrested: Did He Deserve It?
On August 22, in downtown Portland, city police arrested a far-right protester who brandished a weapon at anti-fascist protestors in a threatening manner.
Though no one was killed, the arrest (perhaps predictably) made headlines.
Indeed, this arrest has sent the usual debate attacks flying from either side of the politically charged subject.
Let’s review the arrest and take a closer look at what happened to determine what might develop as a result.
The Rally and Arrest
Alan swinney pulls a gun on the crowd. No shots fired. pic.twitter.com/f0jKX6nmNv
— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) August 22, 2020
Everything started on the afternoon of August 22, 2020.
Protesters had gathered in the morning throughout downtown Portland to protest fascism, the police, and various other subjects depending on who was asked by local media sources.
As with many protests and rallies, things had the potential to escalate out of control, but the police kept a tight lid on things for a while.
It wasn't until far-right protesters arrived to harass and attack the anti-fascist side of the rally that things began to get ugly.
Due to reported staffing shortages, the police did not intervene when far-right protesters began using baseball bats and paintball guns to start assaulting their political opponents.
But the police were forced to intervene when Alan James Swinney, a 50-year-old man from the Portland area, drew a gun and began pointing it at protesters.
Swinney announced himself as a member of the Proud Boys: a far-right organization and designated hate group that engages in street violence quite frequently.
They're the opposite of responsible or respectable conservatives who know the danger and power of firearms and give many gun rights advocates a bad name.
By brandishing a gun and waiting around, Swinney caused the police to descend upon him quickly and arrest him for the unlawful use of a weapon, multiple assault charges, and for pointing a firearm at another person.
Of course, social media quickly blew up as people on both sides began flinging virtual mud. Liberals accused all gun owners of holding similar views as Swinney (a blatantly untrue assertion). Meanwhile, some far-right protesters continued their attacks in the online space.
Swinney, for his part, is still being held at the Multnomah County Jail. He’ll likely be sentenced to some months in prison since he didn’t actually hurt anyone or discharge the firearm. However, his trial has not yet been held and there isn’t any indication as to whether the trial will be widely reported or forgotten by the time it finally gets to court.
What Does This Mean for the Greater Gun Control Debate?
Unfortunately, Swinney’s actions are bad optics for gun rights activists across the country.
Not only is Swinney allegedly associated with a far-right hate group, but he also spewed lots of pro-Trump cheers as he threatened protesters and was taken away.
Anyone reasonable understands that gun owners are, by and large, not like Swinney at all. Indeed, most gun owners are responsible and safe with their firearms.
Hunters, sportsmen, and patriotic Americans who own a firearm only for self-defense should not be associated with Swinney in any way, shape, or form.
Yet it’s likely that they’ll be associated with him regardless.
Today’s political landscape is extremely volatile, and people enjoy painting others with broad brushes.
Pro-gun activists and Second Amendment originalists will need to be sure to disavow Swinney and his reckless actions (for he could have easily killed somebody instead of just threatening them).
In the meantime, the gun control debate will likely continue to heat up until after the November election.
Only then, when things are decided one way or another, will people calm down enough for more reasonable discourse to dominate once again.
What's your take on Swimney being arrested? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!