A gun-toting, left-wing, anti-racist “redneck” group will converge for a convention late this week near the University of Kansas campus, just doors down from its student union.
A member of the Northeast Kansas John Brown Gun Club, a founding chapter of the self-described Redneck Revolt, confirmed in a message from the organization’s Facebook page the group was meeting for a convention, but declined an interview. The message said the event was not open to the public.
The overarching organization, “Redneck Revolt,” describes itself online as a “pro-worker, anti-racist organization that focuses on working class liberation.” Its website says John Brown Gun Club branches train members in defense and “mutual aid,” and encourages creating armed community defense forces.
“We need to be ready to rapidly respond to the armed right wing threat that menaces our communities,” the website reads.
Redneck Revolt posted a “call to arms” on its website for members to counter-protest against white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., last month. According to the New York Times, about 20 members — armed with rifles — formed a perimeter around counter-protestors during the Unite the Right white nationalist rally, which turned violent when the two sides clashed.
The Northeast Kansas group has hosted events with other organizations in the area, including a Kansas City-based “Antifa,” or anti-fascist group, according to its Facebook page. It has also advertised kid-friendly community barbecues. This week it will meet at Ecumenical Campus Ministries in Lawrence.
Officer Drew Fennelly said the Lawrence Police Department was aware of the event, but did not disclose which days it would occur. He said police did not expect any concern over the event.
“We will prepare for it, but we obviously won’t discuss the preparations that we take for public demonstrations of any sort to maintain the safety of the event,” Fennelly said.
Kim Brook, administrator for ECM, said she was unsure what days the group would be meeting. She said Friday she was still confirming last-minute details ahead of the event.
She said members of the group would not be able to bring firearms into ECM, which is a non-campus, gun-free building.
Fennelly declined to comment on whether LPD was expecting the group to bring guns and on whether police were expecting the group to stay inside ECM or demonstrate outside.
James Anguiano, deputy chief of the University of Kansas police, said he had not heard of the group and that the Lawrence police would respond to activity off-campus. Ecumenical Campus Ministries sits just off KU’s campus and across the street from a large campus parking garage.
“Anything that were to occur on campus would be referred to KU public safety,” Fennelly said.
According to the Herald Sun newspaper in Durham, N.C., the John Brown Gun Club was formed in Lawrence around 2004. It went on hiatus and re-emerged as the John Brown Gun Club and Redneck Revolt in June 2016, in the heat of the last presidential campaign.