A Huntsville, Alabama man was arrested and charged Saturday for allegedly starting an altercation and pulling out his gun during a “Families Belong Together” rally at the city’s Big Spring Park.
According to a report from AL.com, the incident took place around noontime on Saturday, when counter-protester Shane Ryan Sealy, 34, allegedly began arguing with a person attending the rally. Huntsville police said that the argument became physical when Sealy pushed the protester, which forced the protester to push back and knock him down. At that point, the Huntsville man reportedly brandished his gun and began shouting threats at the protesters.
“He pulled out a gun. I saw him holding it out in front of him,” related rally organizer Ava Caldwell, as quoted by WHNT.
“We just started screaming for everybody to drop to the ground. We all dropped to the ground crying.”
Speaking to WBTV, another co-organizer, Heather Resendez, explained how Sealy began his counter-protest by merely heckling and showing a sign that read “deport everyone.” She recalled that the situation only became serious when Sealy allegedly pulled out his gun, causing panic among the protesters. These included a 10-year-old girl who was reportedly too shaken to deliver her planned speech due to the incident, according to Caldwell.
“I saw him pull it out,” said Resendez.
“He said ‘I will shoot everybody here’ so me and my people who were sitting the gazebo so we ran and laid down the in grass right here and we were yelling at people to get down, because a lot of people over here didn’t see this person, they didn’t see he had a weapon.”
No shots were fired during the incident, as Sealy was quickly arrested and taken into custody. Police charged Sealy, who had allegedly violated city laws by possessing a firearm within 1,000 feet of a protest, with menacing and reckless endangerment.
Further details on Shane Ryan Sealy are mostly unavailable, but the Alabama State Department of Education confirmed that he is a certified high school English teacher. Huntsville City Schools spokesperson Keith Ward told WHNT that Sealy taught at Grissom High School for “around eight weeks” in 2016, but had not worked in the school system for about two years.
As explained by WHNT and AL.com, the “Families Belong Together” rally was organized as part of Saturday’s Nationwide Day of Action, and in protest of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which separates children of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border from their parents or guardians. Protesters at these rallies are demanding that families separated because of the policy “immediately be reunified.”