Armed Arroyo Grande business owners stand on rooftops during protest

June 6, 2020

Men with rifles on top of a building on Grand Avenue in Arroyo Grande

While several hundred protestors marched in Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande against police brutality and racism on Friday, several rifle wielding men stood on rooftops to guard against looters and vandals, leading to heightened animosity between local conservatives and liberals.

In San Luis Obispo County, dozens of protests have been primarily peaceful. In some larger cities, opportunists and vandals appear to have utilized protests over the death of George Floyd to loot and vandalize.

The looted businesses, burned down buildings, and shot or assaulted people trying to defend their property.

Motorcycle clubs line streets in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday

During a half dozen protests in SLO County, motorcycle clubs have lined the streets to protect the communities from looting and vandalism. Before and during protests, some business owners close early, others board up their buildings, and some wait inside with guns or baseball bats.

Before Friday’s protest, John Hackleman, the owner of The Pit Martial Arts and Fitness, posted a YouTube video noting looting in other areas, and warning that he would be protecting his property. He said that he has had to close his business because of the coronavirus, which appears to be a “hoax ‘ in our area because they are now letting large protests occur.

“I say protect free speech, but this free speech is turning into violence, brutality, murder, destruction of property,” Hackleman said. “We will be watching our gym. Walk quickly when you go past The Pit. Run past The Pit, don’t even f**king look at it.”

During Friday’s peaceful protest, men with rifles stood on the rooftops of a barber shop and The Pit Martial Arts and Fitness. They appeared to hold the rifles pointed down at the rooftops.

Following the protest, Grover Beach Councilwoman Mariam Shah said her son would no longer attend The Pit, and chastised the owner for “turning assault weapons on your own community members with different views,” according to a Facebook post.

A man with a rifle on The Pit roof in Arroyo Grande on Friday

Hackleman responded angrily, calling those asking for a boycott of his business “pathetic.”

“If someone breaks into your business or home, what the f**k are you supposed to do?” Hackleman wrote. “If you want to boycott The Pit because we were willing to protect ourselves and our neighbors from evil, violent, predatory, opportunist rioters, you do not want to come to The Pit, believe me, and we don’t want you there.”

Others have chimed  in on social media, some asking for a boycott of The Pit, other calling the owner names.

“Some ‘family’ friendly place you are, with armed thugs brandishing weapons on your roof at peaceful marchers,” Anthony Toohey wrote on Facebook. “We don’t need trash like that in our community.”

During the LA Riots in 1992, a group of business owners in Koreatown, dubbed the “Rooftop Koreans,” stood on top of buildings, armed with rifles to protect their community from looters. They were revered as heroes.


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mullyman

As you have a right to peaceful protesting also Mr. Hackleman has the right to defend his property. If protesters loot or Mr. Hackleman violates the law in defending his property both will be held accountable. Thought the protests involved the rights and abuse of the people


obispan

If their “community members with different views” include different views on vandalizing businesses then assault weapons on roofs are completely appropriate. I respect and learn from other cultures. I have particular respect for the Korean culture, their rise from centuries of repression, their defense of the hardscrabble businesses no one else wanted to run, and kimchi!


UnReasoned

You know what most people don’t get about this ‘left vs right’ analogy? They are two sides of the same being. As a fun experiment, grab two knives and try to have your hands cut each other off. There. Now we’re better off.


mazin

Was going to criticize the “heightened animosity between local conservatives and liberals” comment. But CCN writer is correct. This is where the two sides part.


Jon Tatro

Well done Mr. Hackleman, normal regular citizens have your back.


otisthecat

I am so sick of people calling for boycotts because someone doesn’t agree with them. I wish there were more people like Hackleman—-actually I believe that there is but they cannot voice it because of the backlash they’ll receive from the other side. It’s disgusting. I wish I had time to go through every business I use, every product I buy to see if they “stand for everything I believe in” before I continued on. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s people like Anthony Toohey that think a law abiding business owner that contributes to our community is trash because he wants to protect his business, his livelihood. But the people/vandals that threaten our community are not. I will never understand that.


mazin

Could have a march against gun violence and racism in Grover. Have Mr. Hackleman, and friends on the organizing committee, leading the march, so all feel safe. Bring us together. Get over this paranoia. Be an example to the country.


mazin

Can understand protecting your business, but assault rifles on the roof top? The Five Cities as an armed camp? Is this what you want to live in? We have become a society of paranoids. A nuthouse, where the greatest danger to ourselves is ourselves.


derasmus

Is it the rooftop location you object to or the so called “assault rifle?” Or both?


Please elaborate and be specific about what level of protection leader Mazin would allow in his utopian paradise of the people. Really, be specific and precise please.


SLO resident

Good thing they were there. If they hadn’t been then the paid protesters brought in by Antifa would have trashed our cities in the middle of the late afternoon in front of the police while the police stood by and did nothing.

If you think the only way to get ~300 residents out in five cities to protest racism and police brutality was to pay them, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.


Francesca Bolognini

I too am just fine with them being there, but for a different reason than the one you express. Since “Antifa” is not actually a group (stands for anti-fascists, which would include most of our armed forces and American citizens) but is simply a term being abused, perhaps you did not know who is abusing it besides the current occupant of our White House. Twitter had to remove hundreds of posts by groups calling themselves “Antifa” and calling for armed insurrection, who turned out to be fronts for Identity Europa, a white supremacist organization that actually exists. Facebook also had to remove 300 such deceptive sites full of posts with similar messages. The FBI has identified these white supremacist groups as more dangerous to our national security than Al Qaeda. I much prefer our local gun enthusiasts to a pack of racist dudes looking to start a civil war by damaging property during a peaceful protest for equal rights. If you doubt any of this, look it up on the FBI site.


Thanks, guys. Nice to know you have our backs. .


mazin

Identity Evropa acting as Antifa posers instigating the riots? Hmmm, could be.