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Armed anarchists rally at Brock Turner's home: 'Try this again, we'll shoot you'

By Sam Levin The Guardian

About a dozen armed protesters have shown up to the house of convicted sex offender Brock Turner with signs calling for the castration and killing of rapists, and some say they plan to frequently return to make him “uncomfortable in his own home”.

Turner, who was released from California jail on Friday after serving three months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at Stanford University, has returned to his family’s home in Bellbrook, Ohio, where some activists with assault rifles have gathered to criticize the light punishment.

“With an extremely lenient sentence, he can think ‘I can get away with this,’” Daniel Hardin, who carried an M4 assault rifle, said in an interview. “The message we want to send is … ‘If you try this again, we will shoot you.’”

Turner, a 21-year-old former swimmer at the elite northern California university, was caught assaulting a woman by a dumpster outside a fraternity party in January 2015. After a jury convicted him of multiple felonies, Judge Aaron Persky decided in June not to send him to prison, instead sentencing him to six months in a county jail.

The ruling, along with the victim’s powerful impact statement, sparked national outrage and a high-profile campaign to recall the judge, who has since removed himself from criminal cases.

When Turner was released early on Friday for good behavior, a standard practice in California, he rushed past a mob of news cameras without commenting.

Back in Ohio, the former athlete also faced crowds of reporters at the local sheriff’s office when he showed up on Tuesday to register as a sex offender, a requirement of his sentence.

Jaimes Campbell, who brought an AR-15 rifle to the rally outside the family’s home and helped organize the action, said he wanted the protests to impede Turner’s life.

“He should not be able to go to jail for three months … and then just live his life normally,” said Campbell, 22, who lives nearby in Huber Heights. “We want to let him know that people aren’t just going to forget about what he did.”

Several of the protesters said they were affiliated with anarchist activist groups that regularly organize armed protests in Ohio, where open carry is legal. 

“The number one reason why we had this armed protest was to make a militant feminist statement in favor of self-defense of would-be rape victims,” said Micah Naziri, a 39-year-old who organized the rally.

“It was very much a political statement,” added Naziri, who carried a .300 Blackout rifle. “It wasn’t a death threat to Brock Turner.”

Molly Hardin, Daniel’s wife, brought a shotgun to the Turner protest and argued in an interview that “it’s completely legal to kill a rapist in the act of rape”. The message of the armed demonstration, she said, is: “If he were to try something like this again … we would help protect the city. We are not going to stand for it.”

The Hardins said they and other anarchists will continue to show up at the Turner house – typically unannounced.

“We don’t want to give them warning so they can leave and have a nice dinner,” said Daniel, a 26-year-old forklift driver. “We want him to feel uncomfortable in his own home.”

He added: “Anarchists believe in peaceful protest and defensive violence only.”

Critics of Turner and Persky have argued that the armed protests are misguided and that activists should channel their outrage into the campaign to unseat the judge.

“We strongly condemn the armed protesters,” said Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor leading the recall campaign. “We do not support vigilante action of any kind.”

Campbell, who recently participated in armed protests at the Republican national convention, said he wished those criticizing the demonstrations would come join them in person to learn why they are armed.

“I look at my AR-15 as a protest sign,” said Campbell, who brought a sign that said “Shoot your local rapist”. He added: “[Turner] could’ve been killed by the victim or the people who stopped the attack.

It puts a little more focus on the severity of the crime.”

Molly said that it was important to direct the protests at Turner’s parents as well, given that they have both continued to argue that their son did not commit sexual assault. His father infamously referred to the incident as “20 minutes of action”.

His parents’ defense is part of the reason why Turner has continued to argue that the encounter was consensual and that alcohol was to blame, Molly said.

“If his parents feel that … having sex with an unconscious woman behind a dumpster is completely normal, it’s no wonder that he feels like he did nothing wrong.”

Turner’s lawyer declined to comment on his release last week and did not respond to inquiries about the armed protests.

Greene County sheriff Gene Fischer said officials will treat Turner like any other registered sex offender and that if he violates terms of probation, he will get caught.

“With the mass interest in the media … we probably aren’t going to have to do a whole lot anyway,” he said. “As much of a public figure he’s become over the last few months … I imagine anything he does will be reported publicly pretty quickly if he does cross the line.”

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