Journalist Attacks Off-Duty Police Officer for Having Unloaded AR-15 at Anti-Gun March

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A Pennsylvania police officer is under fire after a journalist attacked him for carrying an AR-15 rifle as he counterprotested a local March for Our Lives rally on Friday.

About 200 people turned up outside the Westmore­land County Courthouse in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to protest gun violence and demand more gun control. The event was one of 800 similar marches that took place over the weekend in response to last month’s Parkland school shooting.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, only one counterprotester showed up at the Greensburg rally.

Martin Palla, an off-duty police officer with the Rostraver Township Police Department, stood across the street from the courthouse holding an unloaded Colt AR-15 rifle.

“I believe that both sides of this debate have a common goal, and that’s the safety of our students,” Palla said, while emphasizing that more school resource officers might prevent mass shootings.

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“I don’t know if there’s an overall solution,” Palla said. “You can’t legislate crazy.”

But Palla’s counterprotest was apparently too much for liberal journalist Kaz Weida, who attacked him on Twitter.

“This is Martin Palla,” Weida, whose Twitter page is full of anti-NRA, pro-gun control tweets, wrote on Saturday. “He found it necessary to wander the streets of Greensburg, PA today with his gun while children were in

“Maybe you should give them a call. (724) 929-8811.”

The Observer-Reporter pointed out that the Rostraver police department has received “hundreds of telephone calls from people complaining” that Palla “appeared to have been bullying children at the rally.”

A department inquiry is now underway to determine if Palla violated civil service rules or his union contract.

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The controversy also prompted a public response from Police Chief Greg Resetar, who said that though he does not agree with Palla’s actions, the officer still the right to protest.

“In my capacity as chief, I cannot condone and do not condone the actions of Officer Palla,” Resetar told the Tribune-Review.

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“Being a police officer does not take away (Palla’s) civil rights,” Resetar added. “He has a right to protest. But this does not imply the department approved it, and it does not reflect the opinion of individual officers.”

Because Pennsylvania is an open carry state, Palla, an 8-year veteran of the department, was not breaking the law by displaying his rifle in public. However, residents of the state do need a permit to transport certain weapons in a vehicle.

“We need to make a determination as to whether the officer may have violated any civil service rules or collective bargaining agreement,” Resetar said. “We need to know how he transported the weapon. All of those issues have to be reviewed.”

Weida noted that Palla’s protest was likely legal, but questioned whether what he did was “ethical.”

And later, when noting that she has received a lot of criticism for calling out the police officer, she claimed that “Black Lives Matter faces 10 times worse everyday.”

“What good is my privilege if it’s not benefiting the greater good?” Weida asked.

Palla, meanwhile, is still on the job while the department inquiry is underway.

CLARIFICATION: This article was originally published under the headline “Journalist Attacks Police Officer for Having Gun at Anti-Gun March.” For clarity, we have added the fact that the officer was off-duty and specified both the type of gun and the fact that it was unloaded.

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Joe Setyon is a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who has spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon is deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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