On August 2nd, 2008, five years ago, Christopher Fetters was illegally arrested for exercising his Constitutional rights during the Coast Guard festival in Grand Haven, Michigan. Parts of the original article are still available on The High Road. Fetters was legally carrying his holstered Glock when he was disarmed, arrested, and had his pistol confiscated.
When the city attorney read the law, he realized that the City had made a mistake. The charges were dropped and the pistol returned. Mr. Fetters filed a Federal lawsuit against Grand Haven for civil rights violations. The lawsuit resulted in a cash settlement for Mr. Fetters in 2010, along with an agreement to educate their officers about the legality of open carry, and that open carry is not probable cause for a stop.
In 2009, a similar situation occurred to Mr. Haman, in Warren, Michigan. Another lawsuit resulted in a $5,000 settlement for Mr. Haman, and training for Warren police officers.
In 2012, an 18 year old man exercised his constitutional rights by open carrying his birthday present, a rifle, slung over his shoulder in Birmingham, MI. He was arrested and his rifle confiscated. He was found not guilty in a jury trial. He and fellow open carriers then exercised their rights in Birmingham, MI, with Mr. Combs triumphantly carrying his rifle.
A civil suit has been filed against Birmingham. Mr. Combs defense cost several thousand dollars, and the city refuses to admit to any wrongdoing.
In Grand Haven, in 2013, the police now cooperate with people exercising their Constitutional rights. While the police requested that an open carry demonstration remain at city hall, they no longer have any doubt that open carry is legal.
Respect for Second Amendment rights has grown in Michigan, as noted by DrTodd at opencarry.org :
It may be years before we hear the result to Sean Combs civil rights lawsuit against the City of Birmingham, but it is clear that the number of people exercising their right to keep and bear arms in Michigan is growing, and that police attitudes are changing as they are being educated.
Yes, things have changed for the better and I can honestly say in my 8 or so years of OCing in West Michigan, real problems have become almost non-existent. Like I said earlier, I've OC'd in Grand Haven for many years, usually 6-8x a year, and have had no problems. However, just a few months ago I did have an Ottawa County Deputy get a little agitated regarding me OCing in a gas station convenience store in Hudsonville... that though is another issue.
©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Update: an editing error substituted New Haven for Grand Haven. Grand Haven is correct. I have changed the name back to Grand Haven.