Protests in Gastonia took place in two separate areas Wednesday night because of separate issues surrounding racial equality.
On East Franklin Boulevard, a group who said they were the Black Panthers carrying assault-style rifles arrived at Tony’s Ice Cream. A counter-protesting group carried Confederate flags.
“They came back,” protester Sean Dennis said. “The Black Lives Matter, the Black Panthers they came back down through here to start doing this now,”. “It’s tense because they came back down here to our counter-protest.”
Another group gathered at the courthouse. Gaston County leaders voted to remove a Confederate statue in front of the courthouse recently.
Protesters at the courthouse were met with police in riot gear on Wednesday night.
2 men on opposite sides of protest see eye to eye
Protests in Gastonia continued outside of an ice cream store Wednesday after an incident earlier this week when a woman claimed she was treated unfairly because of her Black Lives Matter button. She was cited for trespassing after a disturbance outside Tony’s Ice Cream on East Franklin Boulevard in Gastonia.
During a protest Tuesday night, another woman could be seen on video pulling out a revolver during the confrontation when someone stepped in to deescalate the situation.
Minutes before that, a man said he shook the hand of a counter-protester, and he believes that act helped defuse the situation at its most tense point.
In the video, there was shouting screaming and that was when the woman was seen holding a gun. The woman was holding the gun after the confrontation with one of the protesters, but a man stepped in and took over.
They talked and realized they had different ideas. They shook hands and agreed that neither of them was bad people.
The woman with the gun was not charged and, the police said she was acting in self-defense. Two people were arrested after the incident. Tensions were high, but it could have been a lot worse.