— NewsNation (@newsnation) August 11, 2015
Armed members of the far-right, anti-government Oath Keepers were present during demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri last night. The arrival of the group–four white men with assault rifles–startled many of the reporters and protesters on the scene, most of whom were black. Others called out the apparent double standard, pointing out that police treated these men with much more respect than the non-violent, unarmed protesters.
The Oath Keepers’ membership is primarily composed of veterans and former law enforcement officials. Members of the group regularly associate with other anti-government activists and groups within the so-called “Patriot” movement.
According to their website, the Oath Keepers believe that “Obama and his minions are directly engaged in a planned, concerted, coordinated invasion of our nation, in direct violation of Article IV, Section 4 of our Constitution.”
Why were they in Ferguson?
The Oath Keepers in Ferguson were reportedly there to provide security for reporters affiliated with Alex Jones’ far-right conspiracy website InfoWars. Members of the anti-government group were also present in Ferguson last year after Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes called for other volunteer security.
“We want only well qualified people who have the requisite training and experience to operate in such a potentially dangerous environment,” Rhodes wrote to members in November 2014. “This is a high risk situation and those who don’t have the real-world skills and experience are asked to please not put yourselves and others at risk by attempting to volunteer.”
Where else do they go?
Many members of the Oath Keepers have roots in anti-immigrant activism. This includes many members’ involvement in the border vigilante minutemen movement. Some such as Jeff Schwilk, formerly of the San Diego Minutemen, were involved in last year’s anti-immigrant photo-op – demonstrations in Murrieta, California, which prevented Central American families apprehended at the border from being processed at a nearby Border Patrol facility.
Oath Keepers’ signature black-and-yellow shirts are a mainstay at anti-immigrant protests across the country, including the tasteless press conference The Remembrance Project and Citizens for Safe Cities held on San Francisco’s Pier 14 last month.
More information about the Oath Keepers here.