Video surfaced Sunday showing a tense confrontation erupt as two men — one armed and wearing a mask and body armor, and the other with a camera — enter the lobby of the Dearborn police station.
The nearly six-minute video shows police officers surround self-described open carry advocates Brandon Vreeland, 40, and James Baker, 24, when they entered the station in February.
“In Michigan it is leagl (sic) to open carry. That includes public common areas. Police stations are considered public common areas,” a note in the video says, adding “Keep in mind, I am a journalist gathering content for a story.”
The exact “story” the filmmaker Vreeland is reporting on is unclear, but in a previous video the two men said they were upset about a traffic stop and went to file a complaint. However, things quickly escalated when police saw the firearms.
The video shows two officers yell at the two men mere seconds after entering the station. “Dude, put that on the ground,” one officer yells before another joins, repeating the orders. “Put it on the ground.”
“I will shoot you,” one officer says and another, “I will put a round in you, sir.” Almost a dozen officers surround the two men.
Following instructions, Baker, the armed activist, places his rifle on the ground, but resists removing his sidearm. Both he and Vreeland begin arguing with police about the legality of open carry. Then, about three minutes in, the video shows footage from a surveillance camera inside the lobby but continues audio from Vreeland’s camera.
After an investigation, the two activists were arrested and charged with possession of a concealed weapon, police said in a statement. Baker was charged with one count of brandishing a firearm in public, and Vreeland was charged with assaulting/resisting/obstructing an officer and disturbing the peace. The two appeared at a preliminary exam last week.
Condemnation for the two men has come from both police and open carry activists. In a statement describing the Feb. 5 incident, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said: “I find this behavior totally unacceptable and irresponsible. This is not a 2nd Amendment issue for me. We had members of the public in our lobby that fled in fear for their safety as these men entered our building.”
Haddad thanked state gun rights group Michigan Open Carry for their support in the matter. The group also issued a statement: “There is a clear difference between the everyday protection we advocate for and the attention seeking actions of these individuals. Wearing a mask, dark glasses, visible body armor, and a rifle slung across your chest instills a very specific image that cannot be ignored.”
Daniel Terrill contributed to the reporting of this article