Amid the riots in Ferguson, one white-owned business has not had to close up shop—all thanks to a group of heavily armed black men.
Since the announcement that white police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown, the streets of Ferguson have been in an uproar of rioting and looting. Businesses in a 2 square mile area outside of Ferguson have had to close and take measures to protect their property.
The white-owned Conoco gas station has remained open, though, because a group of male black Ferguson residents are keeping guard.
Derrick Johnson, a 6-foot-8 man, held an AR-15 assault rifle as he stood in a pickup truck near the station's convenience store entrance. Three other men joined Johnson, each armed with pistols.
The men said they are protecting the store out of respect for the white owner, Doug Merello, who employed them over the course of several years, reports Inquisitr.
“He’s a nice dude, he’s helped us a lot,” said one of the men who identified himself as R.J.
The men are not being paid by Merello, nor were any of the others that joined them on-and-off since the rioting began.
"We would have been burned to the ground many times over if it weren’t for them,” said Merello.
According to R.J., the men have chased away several groups of teenagers that were rampaging through the area.
Reuters reports they also had a run-in with the Missouri National Guard, who mistook took them for looters. The guardsmen, with their rifles raised, had handcuffed one of the men before Merello came out of the store to explain that “the residents were trying to help, not hurt.”
Another incident involved a man who tried to steal from the store. Sean Turner, brandishing his .40 caliber pistol, made sure he knew better.
"This is what happens if you try to steal from this place,” Turner said to the man.
It is legal in Missouri to openly carry a firearm, so the men are not breaking any laws.