The Oath Keepers wanted to arm Ferguson locals to defend themselves against police brutality. Do you think the Oath Keepers are doing more harm than good when it comes to relations between protesters and police?
According to their website, the Oath Keepers are an organization comprised of "current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders,who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to 'defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'"
Their motto is “Not on our watch!” and they feel that as veterans, the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution never expires.
So what were they doing in Ferguson?
On the anniversary of Michael Brown's death, they showed up to protect local businesses and escort journalists as they mingled between protests and police. The Oath Keepers came baring AK-47s and other assault rifles, all of which they had the proper licenses to carry.
Initially, the Oath Keepers were the line of defense between police SWAT teams and protesters and reporters.
According to Gawker:
"They had come to [Ferguson] at the behest of Joe Biggs, a writer for the conspiracist website InfoWars, who requested protection from the Oath Keepers after a St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist was attacked and robbed while reporting on looters from West Florissant Sunday night. This was the Oath Keepers’ second high-profile mission to West Florissant. Months after [Michael] Brown’s death, in an operation also led by Andrews, members of the group could be seen standing on rooftops along the avenue, carrying heavy weaponry and dressed in military fatigues, intending to protect business owners and residents from looters."
After the first night the Oath Keepers came into Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the Oath Keepers’ presence, “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”
The locals weren't sure what to make of them.
“Let me ask you something: Do you think a group of black men walking around like that would last more than a minute?” said Angela Whitman, a Ferguson resident and activist.
Missouri is an open-carry state, meaning that in theory, if they had the proper permits, black activists would be allowed to bring their guns to a protest. However, as the Oath Keepers and the protesters soon discovered, the police don't necessarily care to follow the law.
Gawker reported that on Monday night during a protest, "while Oath Keepers openly displayed their rifles, three black men were arrested in a flurry of batons and pepper spray because police suspected they were carrying handguns."
The Guardian reported that none of the men were armed.
Due to this, the Oath Keepers are now on a mission to arm the locals with rifles so they can protect themselves against unwarranted arrests and police misconduct. According to BearingArms.com, the Oath Keepers are "planning an open carry walk with black Ferguson residents in an effort to show them that minorities can open carry firearms without being shot."
"We're going to demonstrate to the world that black people have the same rights as white people," said Sam Andrews, one of the Oath Keepers.
The Oath Keepers claim their interests and the protesters’ goals are similar. The group states they are in Ferguson to ensure that everyone who assembled was doing so safely -- cops and protesters alike.
“We’re totally pro-protester, and we’re pro-lawful law enforcement," said Andrews.
Andrews told Gawker that he refuses to carry identification in Ferguson, "to protest the fact that the police keep illegally demanding people show I.D."
So what do you think? The Oath Keepers are educating Ferguson locals about their rights, but will the group cause a civilian uprising against the police? Or will the police allow locals to protest with assault rifles, once the Oath Keepers leave?
Leave your opinion below.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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