We worked with the Phoenix police department. They came down to our studio on Friday. We've gone through this with them for 15 years.
They have a squad - used to be called the confrontation prevention squad, now called community service. We told them that we're going to come down, I'm going to do the radio show live, we're going to be broadcasting it, and I'm going to have a firearm. I had a 9 millimeter on myself...
It was Thursday that I called and talked to Al Ramirez, the representative from the Phoenix police department, and we were discussing - we've been around this rhetoric that was building up around William Kostric, who did this in New Hampshire. We knew this from 15 years ago when Janet Napolitano was a U.S. Assistant Attorney and prosecuted the Viper Militia out of Arizona, and how that was generated into something it wasn't. We talked to Al and we were like, look, we know where this is going and we want to make sure, we come down, we're peaceful, and we demonstrate the right of the people to carry their firearms. And the police protected our right.
They wanted to help - they assigned him [a police officer] to me. He was never more than 4-5 feet away from me. We had law enforcement around us to protect our rights to protect this firearm.
Hancock, a rightwing talk show host far to the deep right of even Sean Hannity, was--and remains--a defender of the Viper Militia movement, many of whose members were arrested and convicted on weapons' charges in the 1990s. He is harshly critical of government responses to incidents like Waco, and is reputed to have been [I've seen conflicting reports on this] the man who designed the Ron Paul R3VOLution logo for last year's viral presidential campaign.
Hancock portrays himself as a libertarian, and the best thing I can say is that aside from being a 9/11 truther, he is also an opponent of corporate welfare, neocon foreign policy, and the Patriot Act.
Here's a quick guide to the Viper Militia from stories posted on the LATimes website.
You may not like Mr. Hancock's idea of the appropriate venue for such a protest any more than anybody in Jasper TX appreciated the KKK protest in 1998 or the Nazi march through Skokie IL in 1977, but both have been solidly ruled as protected political speech, and it is worth noting exactly how the First Amendment Center ends its article covering these types of protests:
First Amendment freedoms ring hollow if government officials can repress expression that they fear will create a disturbance or offend. Unless there is real danger of imminent harm, assembly rights must be respected.
Clearly, by consulting with law enforcement officials ahead of time, Mr Hancock met the requirement to insure that there would be no real danger of imminent harm.
Thus, whether Hancock is so far down the spectrum that you consider him a nut or not is actually immaterial to the essential point of this story. Hancock (1) proves my point that the appearance of open-carrying folks at political activities has far more to do with open carry than to do with health care or intimidation; (2) took reasonable steps to insure that his protest would not cause any violent incident by pre-coordinating with police, which in turn meant; (3) that the Secret Service was forewarned and knew exactly what was happening.
But that's not the way this is going to be covered.