Business owners concerned over armed group in downtown Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. — An armed group has shown up to two recent protests in Spokane. Some local business owners say they’re not welcome. 

The owner of Auntie’s Books and Merlyn’s Comics and Games says the group isn’t just bad for business, they’re intimidating people. 

Globe Bar and Kitchen said some of the men gathered in their parking lot. The bar reported them to police. 

4 News Now spoke with armed citizens, who say they’re there to protect people and property, but not all businesses don’t see it that way. 

Carrying semi-automatic rifles, some dressed head to toe in tactical gear, armed citizens have turned some heads in downtown Spokane. 

“This doesn’t help anybody. All it does is cause problems,” said John Waite, owner of Aunties Books and Merlyn’s Comic and Games. 

Waite says he sent employees home early on Sunday when the group showed up. 

Across the street, Globe Bar and Kitchen made it clear they wanted nothing to do with the group, saying in part: 

“Two weekends in a row, an armed group of individuals has gathered in our parking lot and two weekends in a row, we have reported their presence to local law enforcement.” 

“We’re not here to cause trouble,” said Tayler Bays. 

Bays brought his semi-automatic rifle to the protest on Sunday, and says he has no problem with the peaceful protesters. 

“We’re not here to start anything, we’re just kind of here to maintain peace as best we can,” said Bays. 

“We’re just here to make sure that the people who aren’t here to protest, the people who are here to damage buildings and to cause a ruckus to let them know they’re not welcome, but the protesters for sure. It’s their constitutional right to protests, and we get it,” said Bays. 

Waite posted a letter on Facebook. He wants Mayor Nadine Woodward and Chief Meidl to come out and condemn the group. 

“They’re not here to protect anybody and I heard they were invited by business. Who? They won’t tell us who,” said Waite.  

READ: Black Lives Matter protesters march to Peaceful Valley, armed group there to ‘protect people protesting’