VA-ALERT: AutoZone protest yesterday - WOW!

WHAT A GREAT DAY!

Below we have the story on yesterday's protest at AutoZone in Yorktown written by Amanda Kerr with the Daily Press and also a really great video taken by the Daily Press photographer. Both spent quite a bit of time at the protest.

We had over FORTY gun owners show up to line the sidewalk in front of AutoZone (on a weekday, in the middle of the day). We held signs saying:

AutoZone Fires Heroes!

Berma shave style:

1. Save a Life?
2. AutoZone fires you!

1. Stop a robbery?
2. AutoZone fires you!

I could not believe all the cars and trucks honking their horns and waving enthusiastically as they passed the group! All of us were surprised and elated. People were pulling into the mall to go shake Devin's hand. A few people passing by stopped to join the protest!

The AutoZone parking lot, for the most part, looked like a ghost town. I wished I had a tumbleweed to toss in their parking lot! ;-)

For those of you who couldn't make this one, you really missed a great event - the public support for a hero was clear and strong.

The Shady Banks Shopping Center, where AutoZone is located, was extremely nice to us and gave us specific permission to park in their parking lot and to marshall there. The Mall did ask us not to protest in the parking lot and we honored that request.

The 7-11 across the street was giving our members FREE coffee! When I learned of that, I walked over to thank them for their support and generosity. They, too, were supporting a hero.

Sheriff Danny Diggs showed up and talked with us for a little while. Standard Operating Procedure: several deputies were stationed in the area during the protest. They were polite and professional and, from their point of view, bored. ;-)

ON TO THE NEXT PROTESTS: SATURDAY

Tomorrow we have our protests in Colonial Heights and Hopewell - come out and join us! A reminder alert on the protests with addresses and times will go out later today.

From the Daily Press: http://tinyurl.com/ae4hkvt [VIDEO, too]

Gun group protests firing of AutoZone employee
By Amanda Kerr, akerr@dailypress.com
December 13, 2012

YORK — Nearly 40 people gathered outside an AutoZone store on Hampton Highway Thursday to protest the firing of a store employee for using his own handgun to confront a robber.

The protest was organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a nonprofit pro-firearms group. Philip Van Cleave, president of the Defense League, said the group wanted to support former AutoZone employee Devin McClean, who was fired following a robbery at the store on Nov. 16. McClean's story has gained local and national attention. McClean appeared on "CBS This Morning" on Dec. 8 and a Facebook page calling for the boycott of AutoZone in support of McClean has more than 9,000 likes.

York-Poquoson Sheriff Danny Diggs has publicly stated his support of McLean's actions. Diggs said in an interview Thursday that he plans to recognize McClean later this month with a Sheriff's Citizens Commendation award. He described AutoZone's decision to fire McClean as "flawed."

"I think what he did was a very brave thing," Diggs said.

During the incident McClean ran to his vehicle to get his Glock .40-caliber handgun, then went back in building to confront the suspect, who was also armed with a gun. The suspect fled without taking any money from the store. The same suspect is believed to have robbed the same AutoZone in September.

Investigators think the suspect might be the "fake beard robber" who is believed to have committed more than 30 robberies on the Peninsula in the last year.

McClean, who served two years in the Air Force, said his "military instincts" kicked in.

"I didn't know what he was capable of but I understood what I was capable of," he said.

A few days after the robbery McClean said a district manager fired him because of the company's zero tolerance policy banning employees from having firearms while at work.

An AutoZone employee at the store on Thursday said the company's policy was to give no comment. McClean said the manager who was at the store during the robbery as well as other employees have thanked him for his actions. He started a new job at a local construction company on Monday.

During the protest the crowd applauded when McClean arrived. Throughout the morning people were thanking him and calling him a hero. Some people even gave him cash.

"It's humbling to think this many people support me," McClean said.

"He did the right thing," said Yorktown resident Andy Anderson.

Anderson said people have a constitutional right to protect themselves and said AutoZone's policy was "constitutionally wrong."

Van Cleave said McClean "should never have been fired." He hopes the Defense League can put pressure on AutoZone to change its policy regarding firearms.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League is planning two more protests on Saturday at AutoZone stores in Hopewell and Colonial Heights, where the company has its district headquarters.