Texas community sharply divided after police arrest bar owner for illegally operating

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"They have absolutely no business in this jail right now, no business at all.

ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Monday afternoon’s law enforcement raid of Big Daddy Zane’s, a local bar in West Odessa, has been grabbing the attention of many people overnight. Thousands have taken to social media expressing either their frustration, or understanding, of the decision made by the Ector County Sheriff’s Office.

A group of men with rifles were “peacefully protesting” at Big Daddy Zane’s, showing their support for Gabrielle Ellison, the owner.

“I should’ve never closed,” said Ellison. “I should’ve never closed.” 

Over 24 hours later, both the protesters and the Ector County Sheriff’s Office are holding their ground. Both sides claiming the decision to protest, as well as the decision to arrest those protesting, were warranted.

“They were practicing their second amendment right to protect my first amendment. They have absolutely no business in this jail right now, no business at all. They had no business arresting me,” said Ellison.

The Ector County SWAT team arrested 8 people, including Ellison, for violating the governor’s orders. A bystander was also arrested for interfering with public duties. The rest were arrested for carrying weapons in a prohibited place. 

“We’re not here to violate anybody’s rights,” explained Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis. “We’re just here to enforce the orders set forth by the governor and enforce the law.”

Leader of the protesters, Philip Archibald, says he would like to see Sheriff Griffis step-up and demand more rights from Governor Abbott for his region.

“I’m sorry that the Sheriff wants to go and paint us in this light as some group that wants to stop law enforcement from enforcing the law. But the fact is, there is no law that they are enforcing. They’re simply violating the constitution and stepping all over everybody’s rights,” said Archibald.

Some say it was an excessive show of force by the deputies while others, like Odessa Mayor David Turner, say the protesters should not have been armed and supporting a business that was going against executive orders.

“People have the right to protest. I don’t agree with bringing guns out even though I am very pro second amendment. But, that was a choice that was made.”

For one advocate, Jenny Cudd, she hopes this can be a catalyst for people to stand up for their rights. She says the second amendment protects the people from tyrannical governments, which she believes she saw an example of on Monday.

 “After seeing what went down yesterday, with that SWAT tank and law enforcement coming in with their guns pulled, pointed at these guys, and now they’re trying to charge them with, I think, a third degree felony,” explained one advocate Jenny Cudd, If you don’t call that a tyrannical government I don’t know what is.”

Sheriff Mike Griffis says more charges could be filed. He still stands firm saying his office made no arrests that were not warranted.

“This is not the way to do this. We allow one establishment to do it, all of them are going to do it.”

A first and second amendment rally has been scheduled for Wednesday at noon. It will be held at the Ector County Sheriff’s Office.

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