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OH – SELF-PROTECTION – Armed men stand guard at downtown Amherst intersection

A small group of men, some carrying semi-automatic rifles, stood watch at the five-points intersection near Amherst City Hall on Sunday afternoon, vowing to protect people if violent activity or rioting broke out. They feared violence was possible as a result of protests in surrounding areas, including a downtown Cleveland demonstration that turned to rioting Saturday. The men, all Amherst residents, were inspired to “to protect the community, make sure that everything on both sides — on the side of the police and the side of any potential rioters — are in check,” said Troy Dodson, 19. Although he said he’d previously heard rumors of protests planned in the city, ultimately, no major demonstrations or rioting were reported in Amherst on Sunday. Dodson said he is a member of the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, but the group in Amherst was not representing any particular gun-rights group and members are not affiliated with a local militia. “I’m 19. I see the future of my country and my rights, and it makes me worried that in 20 years I might not be able to own this,” he said, referring to his rifle. Dodson said protesting further gun control measures was an additional motive for him. Reactions to the demonstration ranged from honks of approval from passing motorists to middle fingers, Dodson added. “Not everybody agrees and that’s part of America,” said Kerry Rock, of Amherst, who stood with the group. Another small group of demonstrators shared the same corner, peacefully holding signs supportive of racial justice. Amherst resident Lauryn Songer, 16, was there with members of her family. She said it was important to her to speak up in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “White privilege is such a big thing and a lot of people don’t see it,” she said. As for where the armed men stood, Dodson said he is not partial to any protester or counterprotester and just wanted to provide safety if things got out of hand.  [full article]



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