Tamika Mallory wants the National Rifle Association (NRA) to start protecting the Second Amendment rights of black and brown people.
The co-organizer of the Women’s March told HuffPost in a phone interview that the recent actions of the NRA prove the organization only cares about defending the Second Amendment rights of white gun owners. Mallory specifically pointed to two NRA ads targeting progressive activists as well as the NRA’s silence on the death of Philando Castile.
“In the NRA’s mission statement on their website, they say that they are one of the oldest civil rights organizations,” Mallory told HuffPost. “If that is, in fact, the case, if that is the history that they want to claim, Philando Castile should be one of the first people that they speak on behalf of. If you’re following in the tradition of the civil rights movement, Philando Castile is an example of exactly what it means to defend the civil rights of a person who has been violated by this country.”
Castile, a black man who worked at a school, was shot and killed in July of last year by a police officer in Minnesota during a routine traffic stop. He was carrying a licensed gun when the officer pulled him over and, although Castile clearly informed the officer that he had a licensed firearm on him, the officer fatally shot him. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of all charges in June .
Initially the NRA released a very vague statement that the organization would not comment on an investigation that was ongoing and would wait until all the facts were known. That is the only statement the NRA has made about Castile’s death.
In a recent open letter to Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President of the NRA, Mallory demanded that the NRA release a statement defending the Second Amendment rights of Philando Castile. Mallory wrote the letter in response to an inflammatory NRA ad which insinuated that “law-abiding” citizens need to arm themselves against the threat of violent liberal protesters, most of whom are people of color and women.
“If, in fact, the NRA was an organization that represents all people, why would you not have a response to Philando Castile?”
The NRA responded on July 1 to Mallory’s letter with a new ad titled “We Don’t Apologize For Telling The Truth,” featuring conservative talk-show host Grant Stinchfield. Four days after the ad was published, the Women’s March announced a protest against the NRA to be held in Virginia outside the NRA’s headquarters and in front of the Department of Justice on July 14 and 15.
“The NRA does not believe in protecting black and brown lives,” Mallory told HuffPost. “They are not an organization that represents all people. Because if, in fact, the NRA was an organization that represents all people, why would you not have a response to Philando Castile?”
Mallory told HuffPost she believes that the NRA should have been the first organization to step up and defend Castile.
“We [at the Women’s march] believe that the NRA should be speaking on Philando Castile’s behalf,” Mallory said. “They should issue a very public call for a federal indictment against the officer who killed Philando Castile, because he was in direct violation of not only the civil rights of Philando Castile, but everyone who was in that car was in danger because of this officer’s actions.”
“Dana Loesch’s NRA ad makes it very clear...that not only will the NRA not defend and protect black and brown lives, they will also take up arms against black and brown people,” Mallory said.