More than a hundred Texans held an armed rally on Saturday in support of a bar whose owner was arrested for defying a shutdown order a month ago.

The arrest of Big Daddy Zane’s owner Gabrielle Ellison and six of her supporters May 6 in Odessa, Texas came after similar encouragement from an armed group.

Statewide lockdown measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 applied to Ellison’s watering hole. She refused and was arrested for “violation of emergency management plan.” The others were charged with carrying firearms in a prohibited location.

Texas law forbids carrying firearms in places of business that make 51% or more of their revenue from alcohol sales. The activists say they were standing outside.

“Defying the governor’s orders is one thing, but when you bring a bunch of armed vigilantes in from other parts of the state for a show of force, I just got a problem with that,” Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said at the time.

Open Carry Texas member Kenny Wolfam holds a poster while wearing a bowie knife, handgun, and rifle outside Big Daddy Zanes bar in Odessa, Texas on June 6, 2020. (Kelby Casebolt/Zenger)

Open Carry Texas, a gun-rights group, led Saturday’s rally along with “Texas Freedom Force” and the “Ector County Militia.”

“Every bit of what the cops did was illegal and unconstitutional,” said David Amad, Vice president of Open Carry Texas. “And I am tired of that, we are tired of that. It is very simple. Enforce the law. Do not enforce your personal likes and dislikes.”

Kenny Wolfam, a member armed with a bowie knife, rifle, and handgun, said the sheriff confused Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission rules with the Texas penal code.

Police used cruisers to block off roads in the area around Big Daddy Zane’s.  Odessa’s SWAT Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, designed for war zones, also idled nearby. Police did not intervene, despite activists carrying firearms outside the bar.

While no new charges came out of Saturday’s rally, the activists arrested in early May still face prison time.

Self-described constitutionalist Martin Holsome speaks at a rally outside “Big Daddy Zane’s” in Odessa, Texas on June 6, 2020. (Kelby Casebolt/Zenger)
Members of the “Boogaloo” movement hold firearms and a flag outside “Big Daddy Zane’s” in Odessa, Texas on June 6, 2020. (Kelby Casebolt/Zenger)

“I hope that the sheriff will do the right thing and let the boys off the charges because they did not do anything wrong,” Ellison told Zenger News at the rally, “and maybe even give them their money back.”

“Terrible jail,” she said.

“They were there protesting their rights. That’s what America is about,” said Odessa resident Tyler Riggle.

Four men held an American flag with an igloo icon, an apparent reference to the “Boogaloo” movement—which broadly supports overthrowing the United States government.

One rifle-toting protester, Martin Holsome, said he plans to “put my name in the hat for governor” in 2022.

“With one hand on the Bible, and the other hand on my gun, so help me God, we will restore constitutional legislation to the state of Texas,” he said

(Video and Story edited by Ford Fischer)

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