Left-wing gun owners openly carried their firearms in front of the Arizona Capitol Saturday, as part of a counter-demonstration against a pro-Trump march occurring in the same area.
Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times was late in covering the pro-Trump march in downtown Phoenix and instead encountered the left-wing gathering, which included armed members of the Brown Berets, Phoenix John Brown Gun Club, and Anti-Fascist Action Phoenix.
As the group began to march, many of them with faces covered and rifles in hand, Lemons followed and filmed the group on Facebook Live.
Some members of the march asked Lemons to stop recording them, which he refused to do, as they were in a public space.
The situation then escalated when a member of the group slammed his shoulder into Lemons and pushed him off the sidewalk, after Lemons had gotten close and asked him what sort of firearm he was carrying.
“I like to see the left wing get feisty,” Lemons replied. “You assault reporters a lot? You’re a big badass cuz you got a gun? Wanna shoot me?”
“So what do you say about that?” Lemons continued. “You think your people are better than the right wing?”
Lemons — a self proclaimed “big, fat liberal” — was then asked by one of the marchers to show his credentials, which again he refused to do but told the man he was with the New Times.
“This is not a show me your papers state,” Lemons said. “And you’re not law enforcement. So I’m not going to show you anything.”
The marcher then pleaded with Lemons to stop following them. Lemons stood his ground and refused.
“This is a public space,” Lemons said. “You were just on a public space, publicly demonstrating.”
“All I’m trying to tell you is that you’re not gonna get a good story or get what you want by doing this,” the marcher said.
“I already got a story because this asshole down here assaulted me basically,” Lemons replied. “Yeah, so I think that’s interesting because usually I’m documenting right wing hate groups, and I’d be cool with you guys being down here. But the hostility is not cool.”
The exchange continued until the marcher resorted to telling Lemons, “I’m just gonna warn you that we’re not responsible for anything that might happen to that phone.”
The back and forth kept going, with some complaining that they didn’t want their license plates filmed, until the some of the marchers dispersed and got into their cars while others tried to block Lemons from filming.
Lemons concludes in his recap of the encounter that “the far left is no friend of the First Amendment or freedom of speech.”
“That’s something for the knee jerk lefties to think about,” Lemons said. “And I’m as liberal as you get. I thought it was kind of cool they were down here, and then it turned ugly.”