CORRECTION, May 9, 2020: When The Western Journal initially published this commentary, we failed to mention that the protesters being confronted by the sheriff’s department officers were armed with semi-automatic rifles and wearing body armor. While the appropriateness of deploying a military-grade armored vehicle against American citizens exercising their First Amendment right to assemble peaceably remains a legitimate question, the information regarding the arms and armor of those citizens provides important context for understanding the actions of the law enforcement officers involved. We apologize for omitting it.
A Texas sheriff’s department rolled out a weapon of war to deal with protesters peacefully demonstrating against a state-ordered lockdown on businesses and communities.
On Monday, deputies raided Big Daddy Zane’s, an Odessa-area bar, according to KAMC.
Law enforcement conducting the raid didn’t come in lightly armed, either.
The Ector County Sheriff’s Office brought in heavy artillery, including bulletproof vests, ballistic helmets and even an armored vehicle designed to fight against insurgents.
Video shows a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle, or MRAP, facing down the peaceful protesters.
MRAPs were originally designed for the United States military as a way to protect troops in the chaos of Iraq and Afghanistan, where improvised explosive devices can shred Humvees and other light vehicles.
Over the past decade, military surplus MRAPs were sold or given to police departments across the nation.
When the ECSO used its own war machine, it wasn’t to face a dug-in group of violent extremists but to terrorize citizens who had simply chosen to defy an order affecting their community.
In the video footage, an officer in the turret of the department’s MRAP can be seen with his rifle pointed towards the few protesters as his fellow deputies advance on the group with guns drawn.
The police action left bar owner Gabrielle Ellison and seven others arrested, the Odessa American reported.
It’s unclear why the daylight raid on a peaceful protest required such a disproportionate response.
Watch a clip of the encounter below.
Ector County Sheriff’s SWAT team raiding a peaceful protest at Big Daddy Zane’s in West Odessa. The bar opened this afternoon despite Abbott’s latest orders, saying “all businesses are essential.”
— JuYeon Kim (@JuYeonKimTV) May 5, 2020
The raid on Big Daddy Zane’s is not an isolated incident in Texas but the latest in a series of attacks on small businesses.
One case, that of Dallas-area salon owner Shelley Luther, is even catching the eye of the governor.
Luther was imprisoned after refusing to comply with an order to shutter her salon while the state’s lockdown orders were still active. The defiance would eventually land the small business owner in jail and staring down a whopping fine.
While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott echoed calls for Luther’s release, it’s unclear if he will weigh in on comparatively low-profile cases like that of the protesters at Big Daddy Zane’s.
As many state and local governments continue to maintain strict lockdowns and harsh punishments for violations, what is happening in Texas is sure to be repeated around the country.
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