Michigan residents James Baker, 24, and Brandon Vreeland, 40, were arrested after entering the Dearborn Police Headquarters armed in protest over being pulled over. Baker was armed with two firearms and wore a mask while Vreeland carried a spare camera to record the event.
The two claim they were also performing an “audit” on the police to test if the department would recognize their constitutional right to bear arms. After a short and relatively non-violent verbal exchange, the police arrested and jailed both men.
“We audit police to see how well they honor the Constitution and people’s rights,” said Vreeland according to the Detroit Free Press. “We showcase police abuse and abuse of police power in the totalitarian police state that we live in.”
After arresting the pair at gunpoint the police searched their car and found more guns. In total, the police found four firearms, an AR, an AK and two handguns along with ammunition and extra magazines.
The two were stopped by police earlier that day. Police were investigating a report about two suspicious armed men in vests at a shopping center. They were gone by the time police arrived.
Shortly after a patrol officer spotted Baker and Vreeland at a nearby park. The officer conducted a traffic stop but saw no guns and let the men go.
“No laws were broken,” said Vreeland, speaking about the traffic stop, explaining why they were dressed and armed. “If we had to defend ourselves in a gun battle, I’d rather be armed.” Both men have been released on $1,500 bonds and face future court appearances.
Police were quick to condemn their armed protest. “I find this behavior totally unacceptable and irresponsible,” said Police Chief Ronald Haddad in a statement. “This is not a Second Amendment issue for me. We had members of the public in our lobby that fled in fear for their safety as these men entered our building.”
Michigan Open Carry Inc., a local gun rights group, also denounced the pair’s actions. “Let us be clear, Michigan Open Carry, Inc. in no way supports the actions of these individuals,” the group said in a statement. “It is our belief that their actions were reckless, and primarily designed to draw attention and a response.”
“Michigan Open Carry advocates for and educates people about the lawful open carry of a holstered handgun for the purposes of everyday self-protection,” he said. “Thousands of people open carry every day all over this state, including in police stations, without incident. They conduct themselves lawfully and professionally, and receive the same in return from members of law-enforcement.”
“Like it or not, exercising your rights is not black and white,” said Tom Lambert, the group’s president. “How you act and portray yourself is a big part of advocacy. I believe these gentlemen failed in this regard.”