Tensions in Ferguson, Missouri skyrocketed last night as protest were held in remembrance of the police killing of Michael Brown. Cops and protesters clashed, leading to the arrests of many prominent Black Lives Matter activists and the declaration of yet another state of emergency. This made for a very curious situation as heavily armed members of the radical anti-government domestic terrorist group “Oathkeepers” descended into Ferguson, dressed in body armor and openly carrying assault rifles.
They were left unmolested by the police and were free to roam about expressing their freedoms, in a stark contrast to the peaceful black protesters who had been met with military grade equipment and pepper spray, and over 120 arrests. They had apparently arrived to protect a journalist from “InfoWars,” a conspiracy theory website that hawks delusional theories about the New World Order and how government “chem-trails” will turn you gay.
The group was founded in 2004 and grew in popularity following the rise of the Tea Party and the election of President Obama. They are ex-Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who believe the nonsense that spawned the paranoia about the Jade Helm 15 exercise- that Obama, who one of the Ferguson Oathkeepers referred to as a “mulatto,” was going to take their guns, impose martial law, institute socialist healthcare and turn America into a Nazi-style regime. Their leader, Stewart Rhodes, wrote on their website that his men should “go armed, at all times, as free men and women, and be ready to do sudden battle, anywhere, anytime, and with utter recklessness.” Several members have been arrested in the past for posession of illegal heavy weapons such as stolen grenade launchers and a napalm bomb. In 2010, an Oathkeeper was arrested for plotting to take over a Madisonville, Tennessee courthouse and place the federal officials there under citizens’ arrest.
The hypocrisy is glaring. While usually black peaceful protesters are hounded and harassed by local police units, these men are allowed to walk around brandishing their weapons, in a violation of the vague open carry law that permits carrying unless done in “angry or threatening manner.” White privilege is clearly at play here. Let us hope these men return to their homes with haste, before tensions get any worse between an angry black population and delusional white men who have taken it upon themselves to play soldier.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.