Thursday night Malcolm Chaddock risked his life to prevent a blood-bath. A right-wing Trump supporter came to the Black Lives Matter march with a semi-automatic pistol and six clips of ammunition, enough to kill a hundred people in the time it takes to draw a few breaths. When Michael Strickland pulled out his gun and began waving it at the crowd, Malcolm walked toward him, arms raised in peace, attempting to draw Strickland’s attention away from the marchers. One of Malcolm’s housemates posted this terrifying photo of Malcolm and the gunman. Malcolm is a long-time peace activist, a member of Veterans for Peace and a meditator with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (he appears on the right in an earlier blip I posted of one of our meditation vigils). He and I have been friends since we met in Occupy Portland.
Today as Sue and I were leaving the museum where we saw William Eggleston’s brilliant photographs, we heard my name being called. It was Malcolm. We sat down with him and one of his friends to ask how he felt about his encounter with the shooter. He said he could tell Strickland was panicky, and he wanted to calm him down. He didn’t pause to think, just wanted to calm him, distract him, and steer him away from the crowd. It was only after Strickland was arrested that Malcolm learned Strickland had come to the march with enough ammunition to kill a great many people.
What were Strickland’s thoughts, as he set out to attend the march with his Glock and many rounds of bullets? What made him decide not to shoot people? Malcolm’s calm, gentle voice and manner helped to avert disaster. I am deeply grateful to Malcolm and a few other bystanders who kept Strickland occupied until a SWAT team of police in riot gear arrived and took him into custody. The full story, along with a photo of the gunman taken by Diego G. Diaz, is here.