Protester says he’s misunderstood

Protester says he’s misunderstood

Stephen Wagner of Smithfield, shown here in a downtown Raleigh sandwich shop, thinks the state’s stay-at-home order tramples on constitutional rights. SMITHFIELD — Rather than hate him, Stephen Wagner wants people to recognize he’s standing up for their rights. Wagner has drawn social media fire since a newspaper photographer captured him carrying an empty rocket launcher while ordering food in a downtown Raleigh sandwich shop. Wagner says he and other protesters were in Raleigh that day to draw attention not to themselves but to Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order, which he calls an assault on his freedoms, including the right to worship. “The state now says you can’t go to church or (dictates) how you can go to church,” Wagner said by phone. “I’m no constitutional scholar, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how that works.” The now-viral photo of Wagner has led to hilarious memes, with some featuring a sandwich replacing the rocket launcher. “We’re actually thinking of hijacking the term (Meal Team Six) that they were trying to put on us because it’s hilarious,” he said. Wagner is angry that people see him and other armed protestors as racist gun nuts who intend to sow fear and discord. “It’s kind of pissing me off that we’re being labeled … like that when we’re completely against that,” he said. Wagner said he and his fellow Reopen NC members would welcome people of color willing to defend their rights, including their Second Amendment right to bear arms. “We’ve already […]

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