Husband of ‘Reopen North Carolina’ leader says he is ‘willing to kill’ in fight against lockdown

Andrew Naughtie
AP

The husband of a leading protester campaigning to “reopen” North Carolina has said he and his fellow protesters are “willing to kill people” as they fight to overturn their state’s lockdown order.

Adam Smith, whose wife Ashley was arrested at a recent protest in the state capital of Raleigh, said in his video that the only just response to the lockdown was to treat it as a fight against tyrannical government domination.

“I want my kids to look back on our country and say ‘man, what a great nation. The whole world looked to them during that time when the new world order tried to take over, and America said no.’ We’re taking up arms, it’s time for us to fight against this, we’re not gonna stop,” he said.

It comes as Donald Trump threatens to move this summer’s Republican National Convention away from North Carolina unless Governor Roy Cooper makes moves to reopen the state in time.

The Reopen NC group, of which Ms Smith was a co-founder, claims to have amassed 68,000 members since it was formed on 7 April. On its Facebook page, the group’s organisers wrote: “We stand for The Constitution. We are mostly business owners and employees that are losing our income and denied our right to provide for our families. We have come together to demand action from their elected officials.

“Rally with us at The Capitol/Governor’s Mansion/Legislative building every Tuesday.”

But Mr Smith’s video goes beyond simply calling for “freedom” to unambiguously endorse defending it with weapons if necessary.

“If you wanna go to the full force time, we have the forces to retaliate, and that’s really, at the end of the day, the only thing that’s gonna secure our freedoms is our willingness to step up and fight,” he said.

Mr Smith’s reference to the “new world order” touches upon a conspiracy theory that has circulated for decades among the so-called “patriot movement” and other fringe groups. In its most common form, the theory holds that there a shadowy global cabal led by the United Nations is plotting to impose an authoritarian, even totalitarian transnationalist government that will rob Americans of their freedom.

While Mr Smith does not do more than allude to the new world order, his monologue touches on many of the core ideas shared by patriot and anti-government groups: that only via armed self-defence and a willingness to kill or be killed can “patriotic” Americans guard against the tyranny of those in power.

“Do we want to pick up arms? Do we want to kill anybody? Of course not, nobody wants to take lives. We don’t wanna kill anybody. But are we willing to kill people? Are we willing to lay our lives down? We have to say yes.

“Is that violence? Is that terrorism? No it’s not terrorism, I’m not trying to strike fear into the hearts of people by saying ‘I’m gonna kill you’. I’m gonna say ‘If you bring force, we’re gonna bring force. If you bring guns, we’re gonna bring guns. If you’re armed with this, we’re gonna be armed with this.’”

Mr Smith’s sentiments are apparently shared by some of the anti-lockdown protesters lately gathering in other states. Protesters in Michigan entered the state capitol building visibly armed, haranguing lawmakers who took to wearing bulletproof vests. And in Washington state, a large protest in Olympia was attended by far-right activists who have themselves called for violent attacks of various kinds.

Calling the executive orders that imposed the lockdown “insane”, Mr Smith gave his bottom line on why the threat of violence was so crucial.

“That’s why America has been free, and that’s why we remain free. Because we are willing to step up and fight against the forces of tyranny.”