Guns at Lee monument: Councilwoman says they’re ‘utmost concern,' protester says they’re for defense

Protesters openly carrying at Lee Monument

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a Richmond City Council meeting earlier this week, protestors were called out by Councilwoman Kimberly Gray for openly carrying guns around the Robert E. Lee monument. The councilwoman sent pictures showing people with assault-style weapons on Monument Avenue.

If you look at the hip of Brandon Love, one of the protesters who frequents the Lee Monument, you’ll see his gun.

“We aren’t painted as pictures of patriots, we’re painted as pictures of criminals, we’re painted as pictures of savages and animals,” he says.

Love chooses to openly carry near the Lee monument, the epicenter of protests in Richmond, but he says it’s for personal defense.

“Night after night, we’re being harassed and intimidated, stuff thrown out of cars,” he says.

Even during his interview, a driver revved their engine as they drove by.

In a virtual Richmond City council meeting earlier this week, Gray had this to say about armed protestors: “When will gun laws be enforced? People walking around with armed assault rifles is of utmost concern.”

The law to which the councilwoman is referring is it is illegal in public areas to carry a loaded semi-automatic rifle or pistol - or a shotgun with a magazine that carries more than seven rounds.

Gray says the “reason is to protect the safety of all members of the public, including neighborhood residents, peaceful protestors and visitors to any public space.”

Love says he has a few issues with the councilwoman’s message.

“Why aren’t you keeping that same energy for the individuals who are practicing their Second Amendment rights that don’t look like me?” he asks.

“Whether it’s protesters supporting BLM, 2A or any other group, the carrying of loaded assault weapons should not be permitted,” Gray said.

“I feel like they don’t take the time to come down here and sit and ask us, ‘why are we armed? What are we going through that makes us feel like we have to go and defend ourselves in a way that may seem drastic to many?‘” Love said.

Gray says she plans to meet with an armed protester soon.

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