A group of anti-quarantine protesters entered a Subway sandwich shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, Saturday carrying an array of weapons, ranging from pistols to a rocket launcher.
According to The Root, the gathering was organized by Blue Igloo. According to its Facebook page, the organization’s mission was to take advantage of an “opportunity for First and Second Amendment supporters to get together, meet people with commonalities and get some exercise while we’re all wasting away at home.”
Travis Long, a photojournalist for the Charlotte News & Observer shared photos on Twitter of the group at an Subway sandwich shop. One photo showed a man with a weapon resembling an AT4 rocket launcher strapped to his shoulder as well as guns on his waist.
Long told CBS News, he thought the gathering was an anti-quarantine protest.
“It just speaks to how strange this time is and how fractured, divisive our culture is right now,” Long told CBS News. “Something as simple as ordering a sandwich requires a large amount of firepower to prove a point that you’re trying to make about the Constitution.”
The Blue Igloo group told NBC News, their demonstration wasn’t a protest at all, but a gathering of like-minded people.
“The walk on Saturday wasn’t a protest, it was a gathering to support our God-given freedoms as Americans,” the group told NBC News via email. “We headed out for a walk to get some fresh air, sunshine, and some much-needed exercise.
The group added the gathering was organized as a peaceful one, even though many of the men carried weapons.
“We are a peaceful group, and wish to keep it that way at all costs,” the statement added. “We aren’t looking for a fight. We in fact, want the opposite. We want to put on a smile, shake some hands, and be friendly. An armed society is a polite society.”
The group’s claims may be true considering the gathering took place during the first phase of the state’s reopening plan. However, the group did make some pedestrians uncomfortable.
Video footage of the event showed a man holding a large pipe wrench approaching an African American couple with a baby in a stroller.
During the coronavirus outbreak, shootings of black men have gained national exposure. Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis were arrested last week for shooting and killing Ahmaud Arbery who was jogging through a Georgia suburb in March.
Anthony Trifiletti was also arrested and charged last week with the murder of Doug Lewis, a 39-year-old African American man, in a road rage incident.