A group of anti-lockdown protesters were mocked on social media after carrying what appeared to be fake and decommissioned weapons made out of plastic and wood.
About a dozen people were pictured walking through the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday brandishing flags and weapons while imploring the state to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state has an open-carry law that allows residents to brandish guns.
North Carolina was already on Phase One of its reopening strategy, which modified the stay-at-home order to allow more businesses to run and people to take some nonessential trips.
But protesters still took to the streets to state their support for all functions of society to reopen, and the props they chose to carry, and their stops around town, caught the attention of social media users.
Pictures taken by photojournalist Travis Long of The News & Observer showed protesters stopping in Subway for lunch on Saturday while carrying their weapons.
One man was pictured in the Subway with what looked to be a fake AT4 rocket launcher strapped across his back. The words "safe" and "inert" were stickered across the weapon to reportedly signal to police the weapon was not real. The man was also wearing two pistols strapped to his hips, the newspaper reported.
Another man was pictured carrying a machine gun that looked as though it was made of wood.
Social media took off around the viral images, expressing how shocking it was that protesters would feel the need to carry prop weapons to argue their perspective of stay-at-home measures.
"In case you were wondering, this is tough guy cosplay in the most ~literal~ sense of the word. He's carrying a big prop weapon around because he's an idiot poser trying to look intimidating to the guy who has to make his sandwich, I guess," one Twitter user named Kelly wrote about the man carrying a rocket launcher.
Another woman named Nina took it one step further by photoshopping four pictures of protesters in the Subway carrying large sandwiches instead of their weapons.
The North Carolina protest mirrors that of other protests being held across the country after states locked down to protect residents against the spreading virus, which has taken the lives of nearly 79,000 people in the US.
In Michigan, protesters caught backlash for being armed while storming the Capitol in Lansing. Critics, including Fox News' Sean Hannity, condemned the protestors for using their weapons as a form of intimidation when coming face-to-face with police and lawmakers.
The rally in North Carolina also looked like an attempt to intimidate state officials to reopen.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies