On August 29, an Open Carry rally was held in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Hours prior, the organizer, Casey Whalen, was arrested on a warrant for “falsifying, mutilating or concealing public records or instruments.” The rally, dubbed “Open Carry If You Care,” itself wasn’t particularly affected. People participated anyway, in spite of the fact that the event page was removed from Facebook. (Local media KXLY)
I reached out to Casey Whalen before the rally, but saw that as soon as he was arrested, Facebook deleted his account, so the connection was severed and the conversation too brief to be of much help. He is the activist behind a YouTube channel called “North Idaho Exposed.”
According to the right wing activist side of things, Casey removed some signs at a local lake, and was arrested for a misdemeanor. When he went to appear on the charge, the activists claim he was turned away because he wasn’t wearing a mask. It is unclear whether that narrative is correct. (Masks are mandatory in Kootenai County. Some of the rally participants were also angry about that issue.)
The Open Carry Rally
HAPPENING NOW: “We’ve had enough.”
— Nikki Torres (@NikkiTorresTV) August 29, 2020
The Open Carry rally began at the Coeur d’Alene City Hall, and participants marched to a pavilion in the City Park, where they had a potluck. Unlike larger cities, the event was peaceful with ordinary people involved.
One rally attendee stated that it is “our responsibility to stand up for the Constitution.” That is true – the government exists because of the people, not because of the politicians.
The Police Chief in Charge of Coeur d’Alene
I contacted the Coeur d’Alene Police Chief, Lee White. I wanted to know his thoughts on these sorts of rallies whether or not they help or hurt based on what is happening in other cities across the country. When I asked him whether he was “left or right” politically, he answered that he endeavors to maintain an “a-political” stance, but is a “life-long Republican.”
Chief White keeps an eye on the news so that he is aware of what is happening elsewhere. But he also knows that his city is seriously different than Portland, LA, or Seattle. This is North Idaho and Constitutional rights are important to most of the populace. We’re not fond of outsiders dropping by to agitate things, either.
“I have no problem with people executing their Constitutional rights. I only ask that they follow the rules. If they have the kind of rally or parade that needs a permit, please get one. We’ve had a couple of events lately that failed to get a permit.” Chief White
A permit is not supposed to be about stopping the exercise of rights, it’s supposed to be about giving authorities a heads up about an event. If a large gathering is planned and police are unaware of it, bad things can happen. Blocking traffic is not cool and can be dangerous, as we have seen in the larger cities of late. A permit assumes the people are law-abiding citizens and not ‘hooligans’ out to create havoc. In larger cites, that isn’t always the case.
The Coeur d’Alene Police Department is in good hands, although on occasion there are the usual complainers. Chief White is from Mesa, Arizona where he advanced through the ranks to Assistant Chief before becoming Chief in Idaho in 2014. He spent 8 years in the Marine Corps, 4 active and 4 reserve. He told us that several officers on the force are also “Jarheads.”
“The camaraderie we enjoy in law enforcement is very much like the Corps. We spend more time together than we spend with family – we might get to spend a couple of hours with our families, go to bed, and wake up to start all over again. So the relationships are important. The only difference is that we don’t go back to the barracks, we go home.” Chief White
Truth, that. As riots and anti-police sentiment across the country creates misery for officers to go to work everyday, in this tiny corner of America that is not the case… at least yet. We depend on the leadership of law enforcement to keep the balance between law and order, and our Constitutional rights.
Semper Fi, Chief, and keep that balance strong.
Featured photo: Screenshot of Open Carry Rally via KXLY