Demonstrators with sharply opposing views on the riots and protests in Baltimore will come face to face in Dallas on Friday evening. Mothers Against Police Brutality (MAPB) are planning a “Dallas to Baltimore Solidarity Rally,” while a grassroots event called the “Backing the Blue Rally” will be held by supporters of the police. A third group, Texans Against Gun Grabbers (TAGG), is planning a self-described counter-protest. All three events are scheduled for the same time and place.
In a post on the Facebook event page for the MAPB rally, organizers state: ”We stand in solidarity with the protesters and the family of 25-year-old Freddie Gray who was murdered by Baltimore police on April 12th. (He died on April 19th from being beaten within an inch of his life and then transported by an official police van without proper safety restraints.) After speaking with our contacts in Baltimore, we have learned that Freddie suffered from 3 fractured vertebrates in his spine and his voice box was completely crushed.”
[Editor’s Note: the preceding statement, and others related later in this article, are presented as written.]
Their statement contains information that is inconsistent with reports from Baltimore. An article by Breitbart News related a statement from a prisoner who was riding in the back of the police van with Gray. The prisoner states that Gray was “banging against the walls” of the vehicle, and believed he was “intentionally trying to injure himself.”
MAPB organizers say their protest will be peaceful, “as all of our protests have been. We do not need any help from vigilante groups or gun-carrying militia types to keep the peace.”
Meanwhile, another march is gearing up in support of the police. “Backing the Blue” will hold their rally at the same time and place as the MAPB event.
On an event organizing page, nextdoor.com, the following invitation is extended: “Join a rally to show support, unity and gratitude for the Dallas Police Department.”
“The Rally will begin at 5PM adjacent to another group’s rally to protest police brutality in concert with the Baltimore Protestors,” the organizers continue. “We will be wearing jeans and blue tee-shirts, ball caps and hats. Signs which read ‘Backing The Blue’ will be available or you can make your own hand held signs. We will march behind the other group. This is our opportunity to give back and say ‘thank you’ for the sacrifices of brave officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect the citizens of Dallas.”
The pro-police event is being organized by Dallas resident Annie Kobus. In a message to Breitbart Texas, Kobus said, “’Backing the Blue’ is not a protest group. It is an idea which appeals to law abiding citizens of Dallas of all races and all walks of life. It is simply an invitation to recognize the sacrifices of police officers who serve and protect.”
“We are not saying they work in a perfect system. We are not saying they are infallible,” she continued. “There are lots of problems, but the problems rarely start with the character of these officers – character that is currently under attack. The problems often involve complex social-political issues and policies that cannot easily be solved… and certainly cannot be solved by destroying property or other civil lawlessness.”
The counter-protest being planned by TAGG was announced in a statement with more ominous overtones. “Alright, so apparently there is a ‘solidarity with Baltimore’ protest in Dallas this Friday at 5:00,” organizers state. “There will also be an open carry/counter protest event at the same address at the same time. Share this post to make people aware that they may need to stay out of Dallas.”
In a subseqent statement, the open carry group’s organizer clarified: “I think I used the term ‘counter protes [sic]’ when I should have said a group of armed citizens to try to ensure that Dallas does not turn into Baltimore. The name of the event is Dallas wont [sic] burn like Baltimore.”
“My whole point is that this event has the potential to be extremely volatile very quickly,” the organizer continues. “For your safety I would stay out of Dallas tomorrow night.”
One commenter on the page, Michael Williams, stated that Open Carry Texas is not sanctioning this event being organized by TAGG. Others attempted to discourage the open carrying of firearms at the rally.
Matthew Short issued a further clarifying statement about TAGG’s event: “It is not a counter protest. We will be there in solidarity. With the objective to deter rioting, or police abuse of power. This is not our first rodeo. From the Alamo, Temple , Austin, JFK 50th, red river against the BLM. we have proven over, and again. That the peace can be held by open carry demonstration.”
All three rallies are planned for 5 p.m. on Friday evening. The groups plan to gather at the Crowley Courts Building, 133 N. Riverfront Blvd in Dallas. The MAPB organizers say they will rally and then march. Backing the Blue plans to gather adjacent to the MAPB group and march behind them. TAGG’s itinerary was not clear at the time of this writing.