Bald Knob, AR -- In August, a Bald Knob man was found guilty of "illegally carrying a weapon" after lawfully open carrying his sidearm. Stemming from charges in May, the White County district court ignored Arkansas state law and found Richard Chambless guilty.
"Obviously we are disappointed that we lost here today. Certainly Mr. Chambless was disappointed that he was found guilty, but we believe that once this is appealed, a correct decision will be made and Mr. Chambless will be vindicated and open carry will be allowed in the state of Arkansas," said Shane Ethridge, Chambless' attorney after the ruling.
Chambless has since appealed, and his case got the attention of Kaleb White, free speech, and open carry activist from Jonesboro, AR.
Earlier this month, White, 22, and a friend made the two-hour trek from Jonesboro to Bald Knob to conduct a first Amendment and open carry audit of the Bald Knob police department.
The entire unconstitutional interaction was captured on video taken by White.
White and his friend began the audit by legally carrying their sidearms and filming the police station when they were suddenly approached by officer Chester Wright of the Bald Knob police department.
"I'm not playing around! You'll go to jail! Are you back there taking pictures?" demands Wright as he begins his unlawful detainment.
"Yes I am," replies White.
At this point, the power-tripping tyrant gets into drill instructor mode and begins ordering the two men around like slaves.
"Walk over to the vehicle, right now!" commands Wright.
"Why?" asks White.
"Because I'm telling you to!" asserts Wright. "Walk to the car until I figure out what you are doing."
Either Wright did not hear the men say that they were practicing their right to free speech, or he feels that free speech is against the law. Either way, the two men were about to be unlawfully detained.
As White asked the officer if he had reasonable suspicion of them committing a crime, Wright was unable to provide it.
“I have reasonable suspicion,” the officer said.
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“Of what crime?” asked White.
“We’ll figure that out here in a minute,” the officer responded.
Eventually, another officer, James Jackson shows up and says, “You guys cannot be on city property with a weapon.”
However, there is nothing in the Arkansas state law that says you can't be on city property while open carrying.
Jackson then yanks the phone from White's hands and turns it off. White quickly turned it back on.
The pair is detained several more minutes before being released without any charges or citations.
According to PINAC:
In a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime, White explained that he is a“commissioned officer,” which is essentially a licensed security guard, because he works for an armored truck company.
This allows him to carry a gun into areas where others might not be allowed, like banks or schools, but does not give him arrest powers.
However, in his free time, he conducts open carry audits, which he has been doing about six months now. He recently became a correspondent for a group called Arkansas Judicial Watch.
According to Arkansas Law:
SECTION 2. Arkansas Code § 5-73-120 is amended to read as follows: 30 5-73-120. Carrying a weapon. 31 (a) A person commits the offense of carrying a weapon if he or she 32 possesses a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person, in a 33 vehicle occupied by him or her, or otherwise readily available for use with a 34 purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a 35 weapon against a person.
Not one of these factors were true prior to officer Wright detaining the two young men.
White conducted a similar audit in his hometown of Jonesboro, where the police actually understand the law, and he was treated entirely different.
When the Jonesboro police department saw White filming their department and open carrying out in front of the station, they came out and welcomed him. Then they invited White on a ride along, which he accepted.
The difference in treatment from one town to the next illustrates the power and danger of police ignorance. Luckily, White and his friend were released without incident, but the same cannot be said about Richard Chambless, who could be locked in a cage for the very same action.