The Brady Campaign and CODEPINK release 500 tennis balls at the gates of the Republican National Convention to draw attention to Ohio’s open carry law
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: I’m Jaisal Noor for the Real News Network. This is day two of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. We’re right at the entrance of the convention, and right behind us you see a group of police surrounding protesters with Code Pink and the Brady Campaign. They’re holding up tennis balls. They’re saying, “Don’t ban tennis balls, ban guns.” They have tried to hand out 500 tennis balls here to draw attention to the fact that even though assault weapons and guns are legal around the convention, tennis balls are not legal. [CHANTING]: Ban assault weapons, not tennis balls. CHELSEA BYERS: [Inaud.] to highlight the hypocrisy of the laws that have been put on RNC. Tennis balls are among the long list of dangerous items banned at the RNC. But Cleveland has made no attempt, other than the Cleveland police union, asking for the temporary ban of open carry. Cleveland has not listened to this. Open carry remains [inaud.] here in our streets, but these tennis balls are not allowed. [CHANTING]: Ban assault weapons, not tennis balls. NOOR: I mean, these are tennis balls. No one’s going to get hurt by that. POLICE OFFICER: It’s just a policy, you guys. You know that. There are rules and regulations. [Inaud.] rule and regulation. No tennis balls, no nothing. NOOR: But guns are allowed. POLICE OFFICER: [I’ll tell you.] JODIE EVANS: This is the most courage I’ve had to have the whole time we’ve been here, because they are threatening to arrest us because we have tennis balls, which they say are illegal. We asked them and they said no, guns aren’t illegal. NOOR: And you’re willing to be arrested to make this point. EVANS: Of course. It’s insane. I mean, what is direct action but to show the absurdity of those in power? ALLIE MCCRACKEN: This is an open carry state, and so there are guys with guns here, but we’re not allowed to have these tennis balls. And the police just gave me a warning. NOOR: So it’s open carry, right, but this is the same state where John Crawford was gunned down for having a toy gun in a Walmart. So there is some hypocrisy even within that law. MCCRACKEN: Yeah, and this is the state where Tamir Rice was killed for having a toy gun. So there’s a lot of levels of hypocrisy to this. And so we’re here to give out some tennis balls, and we’re also here in conjunction with the Brady Campaign to end gun violence. And they helped out by sending us the balls. NOOR: And so why is this a big issue? And talk about money and the NRA, and how they sort of fuel this a little bit. MCCRACKEN: Well, the NRA has been blocking sensible gun legislation for years. I mean, they’re opposed to the ban on assault weapons. They oppose background checks. It’s totally insane. And meanwhile there are mass killings happening almost every day. We need to get the NRA out of our political system. We need to get money out of our political system so that people can actually be represented by themselves. NOOR: And proponents say, you know, this is our Constitutional right to bear arms, and the government’s infringing on it. We need to protect ourselves from government overreach. How do you respond to those kind of arguments? MCCRACKEN: Well, I think everyone’s human right not to be killed by their stupid weapons is more important than their Second Amendment rights. And I think having military-grade equipment goes way beyond anything the Second Amendment was ever meant to stand for. I think it’s insane that these tennis balls are not allowed in this area, and you’ve seen as many people walk by with openly carrying their guns as we have. NOOR: And so you’ve basically been threatened with arrest or being detained. How do you respond to that? MCCRACKEN: I mean, how crazy would it be to be arrested for tennis balls, right? Like, tennis balls. We have violence happening in communities because of perpetuation of weapons, of violence. We have Chris Cox and the NRA taking the stage tonight to talk more about how guns are going to keep our community safe. But the police are really, really busy trying to keep these balls out of the RNC area.
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