There comes a time in any sustained protest movement when internal disagreements over tactics, over what ends justify what means, over the acceptability of compromise in the name of progress, reach a boiling point. It happened during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. It happened in the during the fight to end apartheid in South Africa. Now, it's happened in the equally weighty struggle of the oppressed Texas gun lovers to openly carry their firearms.
The proximate cause of the split is rather legalistic. Open Carry Texas' C.J. Grisham, who launched the group after being hassled by police while carrying his rifle outside Temple, Texas last year, said his group's bylaws say protestors should always notify police before staging an open-carry demonstration.
The Tarrant County group, led by activist and Mansfield ISD school board candidate Kory Watkins, doesn't do that.
"We don't ask for permission or call anybody," he told the Associated Press. "We're trying to make this as normal as possible."
Sometimes, that approach leads to misunderstandings. Like when Open Carry Tarrant County activists visited a Fort Worth Jack in the Box, prompting the arrival of a phalanx of alarmed cops.
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OCT, the statewide group, disputes police and media accounts of the incident in which frightened employees locked themselves in a freezer and called police (the manager certainly doesn't look frightened) but Grisham told KRLD that it was "probably the [culmination]" of a disagreement that began with Tarrant County activists' ongoing dispute with the city of Arlington.
OCT is now de-emphasizing the Jack in the Box encounter.
"The split with OCTC was mutual and occurred prior to the Jack in the Box incident," the group wrote this morning on its Facebook page. "Members are welcome to join both OCT ad OCTC. OCT also wishes OCTC the best, we are not competitors."
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.