JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Tuesday afternoon, members of the local New Panthers group met with News Channel 11 after several hours of protesting in front of Volunteer Pawn on Monday.
Arron Rashad Valentine, a founding member of the New Panthers, spoke to News Channel 11’s Anslee Daniel as dozens of people staked out in front of the business Tuesday evening.
People continued to sit outside of Volunteer Pawn after an incident involving staff at the pawn shop, and members of the New Panthers on Monday.
When Valentine spoke to Anslee on Tuesday he explained the circumstances around their visit to the shop, telling her there was no agenda to protest.
“A bunch of the members who didn’t have guns said ‘You know what, I think I should purchase a firearm.’ So we were advised to go to Volunteer Pawn by one of our members because they had shopped there before. I had never been there. But, as soon as we walked in, the staff was accommodating. The people who were behind the counters were actually fine with us… The owner and his wife walked in and they’re like ‘Oh no, y’all gotta get out.’ And we’re like ‘Why? We’re only in here again because we’re exercising our second amendment right,” Valentine said.
Monday’s incident resulted in Volunteer Pawn’s business manager being issued a criminal summons by Johnson City Police.
A counter-protester was also arrested following an altercation.
Social Media Photo
Several viewers have sent News Channel 11 the following photo circulating on social media where members of the New Panthers were holding firearms with the caption, “mess with the panther, you get the claws.”
Valentine addressed the photo in an interview Tuesday saying in part, “I don’t understand why we’re being singled out when I can go to my Facebook right now, scroll through hundreds of different profiles from different races and see people who have posted photos of themselves with other individuals at a gun range or going hunting or at a gun store…There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to exercise our second amendment rights. We’re not a terrorist group, we’re not a threat. We just want to be able to protect ourselves.”
Valentine told News Channel 11’s Anslee Daniel members of the New Panthers planned to remain outside of Volunteer Pawn Tuesday evening, and ultimately wanted to see the business close.
“We want to shut their business down. We want to be out there every day, even if it’s just a few people. We want to have people out there to where nobody can shop there and if they do choose to shop there, we want to let them know. We’re going to tell them ‘Hey, this place basically doesn’t support second amendment rights for people of color,” Valentine said.
Volunteer Pawn’s gates were closed and locked Tuesday.
News Channel 11 reached out to the Volunteer Pawn Shop business owners Monday, and Tuesday and they have declined an interview.