• The protesters marched through Raleigh's downtown streets to oppose the state's stay-at-home orders, which started easing Saturday.
  • The armed protest follows others around the country including armed demonstrators entering Michigan's Capitol.
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Photos of a group of nearly a dozen armed protesters parading through downtown Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday afternoon quickly went viral.

Travis Long, a photojournalist for The News & Observer, tweeted the photos he took of protesters carrying shotguns, pistols, and an AT-4 anti-tank weapon (rocket launcher) into a Subway restaurant.

The protesters marched to oppose the state's stay-at-home orders, which started easing up Saturday as the state entered Phase 1 of the reopening process, The News & Observer reported.

The photos were widely shared in the US and were even given the meme treatment after an Ohio woman replaced the weapons digitally with sandwiches.

The protesters organized on a Facebook group Blue Igloo, according to The News & Observer . The group called the protest an "opportunity for First and Second Amendment supporters to get together, meet people with commonalities and get some exercise while we're all wasting away at home," the Facebook page said.

Upon entering the Subway restaurant, a member of the demonstration asked if they could come inside and order and said they weren't trying to scare anyone, according to a livestream of the march reviewed by The News & Observer.

The demonstration comes as North Carolina has nearly 15,000 COVID-19 cases and over 550 deaths as of May 10, according to Johns Hopkins .

The armed protest is not the first to spark conversation and criticism as it follows other demonstrations around the country, including armed protesters in Michigan's Capitol .

You can see more photos of the Raleigh protesters over at The News & Observer.

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