Some business owners concerned about presence of armed groups in Coeur d’Alene

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Armed men and women took a bold stance in downtown Coeur d’Alene this week, vowing to protect businesses from potential looters.

But, looters never showed up. There were also rumors circulating on social media that Antifa was planning to cause a disruption, but the Idaho State Police said that was all false.

There were more guns than protesters and both groups remained peaceful, but some business owners feel the armed demonstration was unnecessary and even intimidating.

One tattoo shop owner said she has had customers cancel appointments because they do not feel safe in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

“Me personally, and as a minority, makes me very uncomfortable,” said Rose Pokalsky. “I know that not all of them have bad intentions, but I’m not going to pretend that it did not enable the racist people of our community to come out and come out with guns.”

Pokalsky said one of her customers canceled Friday because they didn’t feel safe coming to her shop.

“She’s a young, African-American woman and she just said with everything that’s going on downtown, she doesn’t feel safe and she probably won’t come to Coeur d’Alene ever again and I really don’t blame her.”

Pokalsky posted her concerns on Facebook and received threatening comments.

“One of the comments on that screen shot went along the lines of I should be careful what I say, because I could face some consequences. They didn’t say exactly what those consequences were.”

Interior designed Kelsey Kay defended Pokalsky and received threats of her own. One person commented saying they will rally a group “that will take care of you.”

The owner of a Coeur d’Alene coffee shop also posted on Facebook, saying he closed early because of the armed group. He asked them to leave, saying they are not helping. The post has since been removed.

Other people and businesses expressed their support for the armed citizens, saying they were thankful for the protection.

“We just don’t want looting and all the rioting going on. We don’t care about the protests,” said 19-year-old Isaiah Legate, who walked the streets armed with a rifle.

“As a black man or part black man, however you want to look at it, I’m just like why do only black lives matter,” Legate said. All the officers were arrested and charged, so I don’t know what [protesters] are accomplishing. They keep saying no justice, no peace.”