by Dale Chappell
A video posted to Facebook shows a white man walking down the street with an AR-15 assault rifle on his shoulder. The police approach the man and ask for identification. The man refuses and the cops accept his answer, but ask him why he is carrying the rifle. The next clip shows a black man doing exactly the same thing. This time, two police cars arrive and immediately the man is surrounded by police with guns aimed at him. As the police continue to point their guns at the man, who is now face down on the ground, they take his rifle and lead him away.
The two-minute video was posted by Occupy Democrats, a political organization whose goal is to provide a "counterbalance to the Republican Tea Party." Almost 9 million people have viewed the video, which so far has 16,000 comments posted. "Dude is damn lucky that cop didn't shoot first," commented one viewer. Another viewer referred to the cops' actions as just a "reaction to information," and not racially motivated.
Both men were legally carrying the assault rifle. While most states have open carry laws, federal law does not prohibit people from carrying guns openly in public. Thirty one states allow a person to openly carry a handgun without a license or permit, with some requiring the gun to be unloaded. Fifteen states require some form of license or permit to openly carry a handgun. It is not clear in which state the video was taken.
This shocking social experiment shows the disparity in police reaction to a white man carrying an assault rifle and a black man doing the same exact thing. Even when the white man refused to show police his identification, saying he does not have to, the police do not become defensive but remain calm. Not so in the case of the black man. "This is what they mean by white privilege," one viewer posted after viewing the video.
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