Hundreds of pro-2nd Amendment demonstrators marched near the Maryland State House on Monday night, one week after two members of the group were arrested by Maryland Capitol Police on charges that were later dropped.
Most of the protesters carried signs that read “more patriots than you have handcuffs,” a reference to the arrests last Monday of Kevin Hulbert and his brother Jeff, two leaders of the Patriot Picket, an organization that advocates against gun control laws.
Because of large pro- and anti-Maglev demonstrations taking place on Lawyers Mall Monday night, the marchers walked past the House and Senate office buildings, along the same stretch of sidewalk the brothers were arrested for protesting on. Col. Michael Wilson, chief of the Maryland Capitol Police, stood nearby, supervising several officers who helped stop traffic for the demonstrators. One member of the group asked the chief for a selfie.
At a news conference with Republican legislators, Jeff Hulbert called the arrest “shocking,” and likened it to events of the mid-1960s. “Fifty years ago people were being arrested for civil rights demonstrations,” he said. “They had police dogs and firehoses set upon them simply because they were out on a public sidewalk. … More than 50 years later, someone like me is put in handcuffs for the exact same thing that happened in Selma, Ala.”
Kevin Hulbert told reporters he spent 90 minutes handcuffed to a steel bench at police headquarters last week while officers “scrolled through their cell phones desperately looking for some information about how to charge us.”
The charges against the Hulberts were later dropped after the Department of General Services, which oversees the Capitol Police, consulted with the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney.
Republican lawmakers expressed concern about the arrests and said officers need better training. “We have the assurances from everybody involved to insure that this embarrassment never happen again,” said Del. Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel), the House minority leader. “What happened is absolutely not acceptable.”
Kipke said Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) “was furious with what happened last Monday night and was very glad to see that the charges have been dropped.”
Last week, as he and his brother were being arrested, Jeff Hulbert said, “I suspect that somebody in the corner office in the Senate office building doesn’t like the messages on our signs,” an apparent reference to Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert). He denied any advance knowledge of or involvement in the arrests.
Asked about retraining for the officers involved in last week’s arrests, Wilson told Maryland Matters that “community-action training” is an ongoing effort involving the entire department.