CLEVELAND, Ohio — Open carry: it’s not just for Republicans any more.
Two left-wing activists who came to Cleveland to protest against Donald Trump and the Republican National Convention were sporting AR-15 rifles and suppressors (“silencers”) outside the security perimeter Tuesday evening as delegates cast their roll call votes inside the Quicken Loans Arena.
Convention security issued an alert: “BOLO [be on the lookout]: Suspicious men described as Muslim carrying large back packs and carrying assault wpns. Headed in alley to Carnegie.”
But few on the street seemed perturbed — and some onlookers were enthusiastic in their approval.
Micah Nazari, 39, of Yellow Springs — the birthplace of the hippie movement in the 1960s — told Breitbart News that he had not had any negative reactions from anyone — save for the Secret Service, who had asked to see his permit for his suppressor.
Nazari also sported an Islamic skullcap and a sidearm. He declined to answer questions about religion, preferring to focus on the topic of the Second Amendment, and his opposition to Trump “and all his fascist policies.”
Asked why he supported Trump, even though the Republican nominee has pledged his support for gun rights while his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has not, Nazari said that Trump had supported an “assault weapons” ban in the past.
“He says whatever will get him votes … I’m not really sure what he believes,” Nazari said.
Next to Nazari was Jaimes Campbell of Dayton, OH, wearing an African outfit and also carrying an AR-15 — and sporting a sticker from Code Pink, the anti-war group. He told Breitbart News that he had found “common ground” on common-sense gun regulations as he mingled in Cleveland with Code Pink and other anti-Trump protesters.
Meanwhile, convention-goers strolled by nonchalantly or drank beer at an adjacent pub as the activists lounged against a concrete barrier on East 9th Street.
The Second Amendment enthusiasts attracted a few stares, and some attention from journalists, but otherwise generated little stir.
Police had asked Gov. John Kasich to suspend open carry laws near the convention site, but he refused.
One pro-Trump protested came armed to a rally on Monday, and said that he would welcome Black Lives Matter protesters who came armed as well: “Come armed too. It’s fine. Just don’t harm anybody.”