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More details on allegations of armed Wilmington protestors, one denies accusations

(Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Sheridan Dlugy-Hegwer)

WILMINGTON — Three people have so far been arrested for carrying firearms during a George Floyd protest in downtown Wilmington at the end of May. At least one protestor is denying he was armed, while another was photographed with a pistol.

The protest on Sunday, May 31, was the second in Wilmington and saw the most dramatic clash between local law enforcement and protestors. Questions linger about how the initially peaceful protest escalated, with authorities saying protestors provoked the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and other force by throwing rocks and bottles, and protestors claiming deputies from New Hanover and Brunswick counties’ Sheriff’s Offices fired first.

Related: Wilmington mayor says ‘this was to incite a riot,’ but protestors dispute leaders’ claims

District Attorney Ben David has been steadfast in his support for the use of force to disperse protestors, citing the presence of four armed men at the protest as a key factor in deploying the civil disturbance unit. David noted that state law prohibits weapons possession during demonstrations on public property. Three of those men have so far been arrested: Edward Joynt, James Hoffman, and David Malachi.

A fourth individual, described by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office (NHCSO) only as a black male wearing a black shirt and gold chain, is still at large. Law enforcement radio traffic from the night of the protest, provided by New Hanover County’s 911 center, also describes a potential fifth individual, described as a white male, wearing a “camo backpack” and carrying an “assault rifle.” The individual is discussed minutes after tear gas was used to disperse the initial protest, but no arrests are documented.

Protestor denies being armed

Protestor David Malachi disputes charges that he was illegally armed during the protest on May 31.

One of these men, David Malachi, denies he was carrying a pistol at the protest. Malachi provided several photographs and stills from Facebook live videos, showing him on the steps of City Hall and in the roadway on North Third Street in front of Wilmington Police Department (WPD) officers. In these photographs, the attachment for a clip-on hoster can be seen on Malachi’s waistband, but no holster or weapon is present.

Malachi said he felt the clip was “symbolic of the importance of the 2nd Amendment, even though I was only there to express my 1st Amendment.” Malachi noted that he crossed back and forth in front of WPD officer repeatedly without incident. At no point, Malachi said, did officers express any concern about his holster clip or approach him about it.

At the same time, around 6:58 p.m., radio traffic discusses Malachi. An officer describes a black male with grey pants and a black shirt — as Malachi was wearing — with a weapon on his right hip. An officer notes that the “county has eyes on him.” While the CAD report is partially redacted, it does contain his name, phone number, and driver’s license number.

Malachi was arrested two days later, on Tuesday, June 2. He said he has sought legal counsel and will contest the charges.

Other arrests

Edward Joynt is arrested by deputies from the Civil Disturbance Unit. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Sheridan Dlugy-Hegwer)

Twenty-nine-year-old Edward James Timothy Joynt was also arrested on Sunday, May 31. In a video submitted to Port City Daily, Joynt appears to be the first person arrested by CDU deputies. NHCSO confirmed that the pistol (seen above, with a copper or orange slide on the front) being pointed at protestors by a member of the arrest team was a less-lethal pepper-pellet weapon, not a standard firearm. The other arrest team member has a paint-ball type weapon.

Joynt was initially arrested on charges of inciting a riot and failure to disperse. Two days later he was rearrested and charged with having a 9mm handgun on his person during the May 31 protest.

In the photographs and videos provided to Port City Daily, Joynt is not seen openly displaying a firearm. CAD reports from the evening provided by 911 don’t mention Joynt.

A week after the May 31 protest, 38-year-old James Hoffman was arrested.

Although not identified in the CAD reports, officers do discuss a white man in a black t-shirt on a motorcycle with a handgun on his right hip. Photographs provided to Port City Daily show this man, which NHCSO stated was Hoffman.

A white male on a motorcycle with a pistol on his right hip. (Port City Daily photo / Courtesy Sheridan Dlugy-Hegwer)

It’s worth noting that the man in the photographs does not appear to be a part of the protest, although he does appear in photographs as stopping his motorcycle to film or photograph the crowd with his smartphone. However, the state law prohibiting firearms at public demonstrations extends to “any person participating in, affiliated with, or present as a spectator.”


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001

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