Texas Monthly sat down with Philip Archibald, a little known fitness trainer who is now leading some of the social distancing protests in West Texas.
Standoffs occurred all over West Texas this past weekend as protestors — peacefully assembling to demand an end to lockdown, unrelated to other protests this past weekend calling for the arrest of the officers who murdered George Floyd — took to the streets with guns and in many cases masks to make themselves heard. The unlikely leader of the pack was 29-year-old amateur bodybuilder and personal trainer Philip Archibald.
As reported by Texas Monthly, overnight, Archibald formed the Freedom Initiative Texas (FIT), dedicated to helping businesses re-open during the pandemic, even though local politicians and health officials have warned that it would be dangerous to do so.
Archibald, a man who was home-schooled and is a self proclaimed history buff, is the oldest of eight siblings. After dropping out of Texas A&M, he became a certified personal trainer in 2013 and started his own business. Over the past seven years working as a personal trainer, he’s trained hundreds of clients and helped build an online fitness community in Texas. His skills building this online community came in handy after he became fed up with over two months of government imposed lockdowns. Archibald claims he was tired of people sitting at home and not taking action. It was time for a change. Archibald believes that the danger of the virus is largely overstated and that fitness, outside activities, and nutrients is the best way to help boost one’s immune system and help protect against the virus.
Many members of FIT believe the threat of coronavirus is “overblown” by the US government and that stay-at-home orders infringe on our constitutional rights as citizens. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting this claim. More than 100,000 people across America have died of COVID-19 and doctors at the CDC have said social distancing is responsible for flattening the curve; without a stay-at-home order, that number could be double or triple what it is.
FIT members have controversially driven around town with large guns and are proponents of open carry. It is shocking to look at pictures of them driving and their rifles being peacefully directed by police next to photos taken in LA from the same weekend, where peaceful protestors seeking justice for George Floyd were being tear gassed and shot at with rubber bullets.
Archibald’s protests have since gone viral, offering him more opportunities to recruit new people sympathetic to his cause. He holds a potent message for open-carry activists. Archibald believes that life as we know it has been threatened and that message has certainly resonated with a small group of people in the community – showing their support via their open-carry protests.
*Header image courtesy of Philip Archibald.