On our August 30th, 2020 Facebook live we had two questions that came from Marshall Horwitz that are the topic of this month’s blog. The first question was “Up till now, church attacks have been done by individuals. Do you fear attacks by gangs on churches? Could that be next?” My initial response to that Marshall was go out and listen to the webinar we did on July 30, 2020 called “Tale of Two Churches”. But to be fair to Marshall, a recent listener, the answer to the question is yes, I do feel that protesters or gangs could descend on churches like they did on the two churches I talked about in our webinar.
In this discussion we saw Antifa and BLM show up on church campuses and basically attack the church and members of the church. Of course, the protesters said it was a peaceful demonstration. I have a different opinion of what the definition of what is considered a peaceful protest. If you want to walk down the street and carry signs for your cause and after you are finished you go home, that is peaceful and a right guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. Yet neither protest against the churches we discussed were peaceful; in fact, the protests that happened in Troy, New York we saw members of the church assaulted when church members went to escort other members into the church through the “peaceful protesters”. This was an attack. The other church in San Antonio saw protesters walking around the building with signs and yelling profanities at church members and their children because they disagreed on their view of sexuality. The church had stated on their web page that they believed what the Bible said about marriage being between a man and a woman.
So, what do we do about it? Train. Assess your strength and weaknesses. Next step is to sit down with your team and create a plan. Approach the leaders of your church and get approval for it, then practice your plan. Another church once asked me to come and critique their training. One of their scenarios was that of angry protesters showing up at their campus. Except for a few suggestions I had, it was good training because they thought of it and worked out a “what if”. This is something we are going to be looking to do at our church. If I can be of any assistance with your church, please give us a call.
Marshall’s second question “Hello from Sarasota. Can you comment on the incident in Tallahassee when the innocent bystander was attacked by the mob and thwarted the assault but pulling his weapon? Thankfully, the attackers dispersed, and he faces no charges.” When I first saw this question once again my initial response was “no, I am not going to comment”. I have my reasons and I will give them later. After calming down I went out and looked for the video, because you know there is video on everything these days. The first video was just as I thought. From the film it looks like “innocent bystander (IB)” provoked the peaceful protesters and the protesters had to defend themselves. This is from the angle that the mainstream media wants you to see. The next video titled “Video from Historic Capitol shows the moment a man pulled a gun on protesters Saturday”. This video shows a different angle which also paints a different picture. The Capital camera shows the IB being viciously attacked by the mob and beaten to the ground. If he had not pulled his weapon he might have been seriously injured.
But here is the reason that I wasn’t going to comment but since you asked here goes. Why would anyone of sound mind go to a protest? Can you please explain that? Unless you are a camera crew; a reporter from a news agency who is getting paid big bucks, a police officer who has been ordered to protect the streets or you work in the area and your boss says you’ve got to be there then what is your reason for being at a protest? Right now, if you are not one of those I listed, stay home or you might have a bad day like the poor guy in Portland or this guy almost did. The second thing that bothers me is that from all reports I have read he was down there to document the protest (once again for what news organization) and was caught taking pictures of protesters' vehicles. I am just as frustrated as everyone else about the violence going on around this country but I will say this once again; if you do not have one of the reasons I listed for being there, why are you there? Then you show up armed. I have a real problem with that and am really surprised it went as well as it did.
That IB is lucky he didn’t get shot. I am still sitting here in shocked that he didn’t get shot. I hate to say this, but I really am glad I wasn’t there. Understand a white guy standing in the middle of a BLM protest waving a gun around is perceived as a threat, period. Maybe the officer who confronted him knew more about what was going on, but I am still (I will be saying this all day long) shocked he didn’t get shot. I am so happy that he didn’t shoot anyone because the outcome of this story would be completely different. Sorry folks from all initial indications I believe this IB went there to cause trouble. Remember the things that I said would be the only excuse I would accept; from what I am reading his job description wasn’t one of them.
Now as I write this blog, I just had another thought cross my mind about the Tallahassee incident. Maybe that IB was on the job. Having worked situations like the protest at Florida’s state capital the police department would send us into the crowd; in plain clothes so we would blend in, to get pictures of those in the crowd and their vehicles so we could identify them later. If this is the case, then yes, he had a reason to be there. However, he is still lucky he didn’t get shot. But maybe the other officer knew him and had to place him under arrest to protect his identity, I had that happen to me once and I can tell you I was also lucky I didn’t get killed by friendly fire that night.
The paper is saying he didn’t get charged. If they find out that he is with another group that was in the protest to cause trouble this might not be over. Remember the shooting at the convenience store where the shooter confronted the woman over parking in the handicap spot and her boyfriend came out of the store and assaulted the shooter? The Pinellas County Sheriff at first called it self-defense until they looked at the shooter and found out that he was a troublemaker and had threatened to shoot people in many incidents around the county. He ended up being charged and is now serving 20 years for manslaughter. Heck remember the couple that was protecting their house when “peaceful protesters” showed up on their block. At first it looked like they were not going to be charged but guess what? They got charged.
So, what did we learn here today? One stay away from places that are holding a “peaceful protest”. Two which I didn’t bring up; if you do find yourself in a situation like the IB, armed and in a hostile environment, this is wrong time to be thinking I wish I had listened to Jim and had joined USCCA. In today’s scary times when so many of us are now thinking of carrying concealed you need that extra protection USCCA offers. If things would not had gone right for this IB, remember the first video we saw? The IB could have really used the help from USCCA. For more information on USCCA go to our website and click on the link Concealed Carry Legal Protection. Sorry Wendy made me do the plug for USCCA who is going to speak be at our Church Safety Conference on October 17th. For more information on the conference go here.
I once heard the most important part of the body in carrying concealed was the brain matter between the ears. Proverbs 14:16 says “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence”, and Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty”. I think we can all agree God is warning us to be smart about our actions. Thank you, Marshall, for the questions. Be safe and be blessed.
Jim has many years of law enforcement experience and has run the safety team at his church for several years. TSA was formed after he realized God's calling when multiple churches reached out and asked him to present at their church.