POLITICS

Obama Protester With Semi-Automatic Rifle Part Of 'Publicity Stunt'

A number of YouTube videos have shown a man carrying an AR-15 rifle to a pro-Obama health care reform rally outside the president's speech in Phoenix on Monday. He was one of at least a dozen men carrying unconcealed weapons at the event, according to the AP.

The Arizona Republic reports that before attending the rally, the AZ-15 toter who self identifies as Chris met with members of two local libertarian groups, PR4409 and Freedom's Phoenix, with whom he had worked in support of Ron Paul's presidential campaign.

In a YouTube video produced by PR4409, Chris is asked before leaving for the Obama rally if he plans on "water[ing] the tree of liberty"--a reference to Thomas Jefferson's quote about the need for a violent revolution from time to time. With the AR-15 slung over his shoulder, Chris replied, "I hope not."

Later in the day, when asked by a man at the pro-health care reform rally if he thought the "solution may be some sort of violent revolution," Chris changed his tone. "I believe that may unfortunately have to be the way," he said.

Monday's events that led to these menacing words were preconceived as a publicity stunt.

Ernest Hancock, who is credited with designing the logo for the "Ron Paul r3VOLution," told CNN's Rich Sanchez on Tuesday that the public display of guns was planned well in advance. The Arizona Republic reports,

Hancock met with a Phoenix police officer last week, informing him that he and others in his group planned to bring firearms.

When Sanchez suggested many people would see it as a "publicity stunt," Hancock responded: "Absolutely."

Towards the end of the first video, Chris says while carrying his semi-automatic AR-15, "To be honest with you, I just wanted to know if I would still be free to exercise my rights in downtown Phoenix."

The quote about violent revolution and Chris' statement that he simply wanted to excercise his right to carry a firearm start around 9:20.

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