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Man arrested after carrying AR-15 near Black Lives Matter protests in Vermont

The man was previously barred from carrying firearms and was arrested by Burlington police for violating conditions of a prior criminal release.
Syndication: Burlington
Protesters call on the Burlington Police Department to fire officers Joseph Corrow, Jason Bellavanace and Cory Campbell as they march through Burlington, Vt., on Aug. 27, 2020.Ethan Bakuli / USA Today Network

Police in Burlington, Vermont, arrested a man on Monday who was carrying firearms near the city’s Black Lives Matter protests for three consecutive days.

Jordan Atwood, 25, is barred from possessing firearms due to restrictions imposed by conditions of a prior criminal release. He was arrested on Monday afternoon for violating those terms, Burlington police said.

Atwood was first spotted Saturday evening in the police parking lot across the street from Battery Park, where protestors have been camping out for the last week.

Vermont is an open carry state, so when community members initially made complaints, dispatchers told callers that the man was “exercising his Constitutional rights,” interim police chief Jon Murad wrote in a press release on Tuesday.

City police continued monitoring the armed man, later identified as Atwood, who was seen again the following evening on Sunday at the same park. He refused to identify himself when a police officer spoke to him.

On Monday, police investigated Atwood and discovered that he was banned from possessing firearms as part of his conditions of release due to a previous reckless endangerment charge from 2019. Detectives then applied for search warrants, police said.

That evening, police dispatch received a call about an armed man walking up the street by the park.

At the time of his arrest, Atwood was carrying a pistol and an AR-15, police said. Atwood did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment. It was unclear if he had any legal representation.

The incident follows the arrest of Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, who was charged with first degree homicide in connection with the deaths of two people during the protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Wisconsin officials say Rittenhouse was also carrying an AR-15 style rifle the night of the shootings.

In a statement released on late Tuesday, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger applauded the police for investigating Atwood, but said he was “concerned” for the safety of both the protesters and police.

“We had a person whose behavior was, on its face, lawful but was nevertheless troubling. His behavior frightened and alarmed community members, including those exercising their right to free speech,” Murad said. “Additional investigation work instead discovered him to be committing violations of the law, and he was apprehended appropriately.”