Gun Dealer Sparks Backlash After Inviting Right-Wing Groups to Protest Black Lives Matter Art Installation

A gun dealer has sparked backlash after calling on members of right-wing groups to protest a Black Lives Matter art installation, in a post that included a picture of a Black student organizer.

Earlier this month, the city council in Dublin, California, approved a request from Tri-Valley for Black Lives to bring its "Sign Garden for Justice" to the city.

Denel McMahan, a 17-year-old who is the president of the Black Student Union at Dublin High School, is one of the organizers of the event planned for Sunday.

McMahan told ABC7 that he felt threatened after Mike Grant, the owner of a gun business formerly based in Dublin, posted a picture of him on Facebook and called on a number of right-wing groups to "bring your vests and helmets in case these BLM people start trouble."

"This is a 911!!" Grant wrote in the post on Saturday. "They are planning a protest on Sunday, Nov 15th so patriots get your friends and let greet them with a little smile."

He added: "Oath Keepers, 3%, NRA and second Amendment members let gather at City Hall Parking Lot in Dublin on Sunday AM and get ready for a Fun couple hours. Oath Keepers please bring your vests and helmets in case these BLM people start trouble. Remember this group is known as 'left wing' anti government group'."

The post has since been taken down, but screenshots were shared on social media.

In a post on Facebook, Tri-Valley for Black Lives accused Grant of threatening a minor and said he had "called his fellow Oath Keepers and gun-owners to come armed to our final peaceful sign garden event to intimidate and potentially cause violence."

The post urged people to show up to the event, adding: "Show up and be part of the MOVEMENT for Black Lives. We need to show our community we will not and do not tolerate this type of hate and threats."

McMahan told ABC7 that he was "very shaken" by the post and it prompted his father to call Grant.

Grant told local media outlets that he had received death threats since writing the post and said the backlash had taught him a lesson. "This has woken me up to the fact that, what I've been going through the past few days, people of color have been going through their entire lives," Grant told CBS SF.

He added to ABC7: "I never thought a 17-year old-boy could teach a 65-year-old man something, but he did... Now I think I understand why this young man is doing this, to try to educate people."

Some on social media accused Grant of putting a target on the backs of Black students, but he insisted that was not his intention and said his post was "never a formal threat." He also said he mistakenly thought the event was a protest.

"Do not, I repeat, do not go and protest or go to that event to give hate or to cause a problem," he added.

Tri-Valley for Black Lives and Grant have been contacted for additional comment.

Shawn Kumagai, a member of the Dublin City Council, was accused in Grant's post of wanting to "let the [Black Lives Matter] thugs put signs up promoting their agenda." He told CBS SF that Dublin police are working with Tri-Valley for Black Lives to ensure the event is held safely.

The city's mayor, David Haubert, is serving as the official curator of the event which the city council described as a "temporary city-curated public art installation to honor the community's fight for racial justice and equality."

He said the city is taking the possibility of violence "very seriously" and has asked for "adequate resources be made available to ensure the public's safety."

He told Newsweek: "I condemn violence of any kind and I will not tolerate the intimidation of one of our students."

Dublin Police and Kumagai have been contacted for additional comment.

This article has been updated with a comment from David Haubert.

Street art in support of Black Lives Matter covers boarded up store fronts on July 25, 2020 in Oakland, California. Natasha Moustache/Getty Images