Two men who were part of a peaceful pro-Second Amendment protest were arrested on a sidewalk near the Maryland State House.
The unidentified men are part of a group known as Patriot Picket, an organization that bills itself as media-savvy Second Amendment activists. The organization has protested in the same area regularly for two years without incident.
Kyle Norman, a member of the group, told reporters that the men were arrested for failing to follow a lawful order while holding signs on a sidewalk along College Avenue. The area is about a block from the State House, and lawmakers walking outside must pass them in order to reach the State House for Monday night floor sessions.
“They told us to leave,” Norman said, adding that members of the group have come to Annapolis “every Monday night” for two years.
Officers with the Maryland Capitol Police did not explain to reporters why the arrests were being made and in one instance ordered a reporter who was filming the arrests to back away from the area.
An officer with the department referred all questions to a department spokesman who did not immediately respond to inquiries Monday night.
Norman said he believed the arrests were the result of signs criticizing Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and added he believed the Democrat, who is also a gun owner, asked for the arrests.
Miller, upon hearing of the arrests from reporters, said he had nothing to do with the arrests and that he had no problem with the protesters.
“I don’t know a thing about it, honestly and truly,” Miller said.
The arrests raised the eyebrows of some lawmakers including Sen. Michael Hough, R-Frederick, who spoke about the First Amendment on the Senate floor Monday night about an hour after the arrests.
“I’m not sure if these guys did something wrong or right but I just want to point out that I hope we’re respecting people’s First Amendment rights to be down here,” said Hough. “I know a lot of times, as a Republican, I see people with signs on things I disagree with, but I respect their rights to be out there.”
Miller told Hough and the other senators that he would look into the arrests.
“I kind of grew fond of the ‘Miller Busch traitors’ sign,” Miller said. “I’d smile. They’d smile. Everything would be fine. We should go back to that.”