Republican Convention

Unemployed construction worker with AK-47 becomes face of Ohio's open-carry law

Jesse Gonzales (Photo: Andrew O'Reilly/Fox News Latino)

Jesse Gonzales (Photo: Andrew O'Reilly/Fox News Latino)

Jesse Gonzales has spent the week of the Republican National Convention at Cleveland's Public Square with his AK-47.

The 26-year-old unemployed construction worker from nearby Lakewood says he’s not brandishing an assault rifle in one of the city’s most crowded spots in order to cause a problem, but simply to exercise his rights under Ohio law and the Constitution.

“I’m out here essentially to carry my rifle as a demonstration of my Second Amendment right,” Gonzales, who identifies as white but notes that he has either Venezuelan or Brazilian blood in his lineage, told Fox News Latino.

In Ohio, gun owners are allowed to carry firearms in public as long as they are authorized to own them. The law has caused major blow-back in the weeks leading up to the Republican National Convention as police officials have worried publicly about violence erupting during street protests being held by various groups.

Both black separatist groups and bikers have promised to carry firearms during their protests, but so far there have been no incidents involving guns.

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During one protest, which was attended by several hundred supporters of the soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, a few of the candidates backers were openly carried firearms.

Joel Ameigh, of Hershey, Pennsylvania, who had a Smith and Wesson handgun strapped to his belt, told FNL that he's not necessarily a Trump supporter but wanted to hear from the speakers at an "America First" rally sponsored by Citizens for Trump.

"We're not here to be dangerous people," he said. "We're not here to intimidate anyone. There are laws against that sort of thing."

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said during a press conference earlier in the week that he has only heard of about a dozen people openly carrying weapons.

Gonzales was wearing a camouflage “Make America Great Again” baseball cap and a T-shirt featuring former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. He told FNL, “Honestly, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with everyone out here, even the police.” 

Gonzales, who says that he doesn’t identify with either political party, said that he is supporting Trump because of the candidate’s strict immigration position and economic platforms.

“Immigration is something that Trump is going to solve,” he said.

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