Far-right extremists patrol Ferguson: Oath Keepers militiamen descend on city

Militiamen said to be protecting writers for Alex Jones' conspiracy-minded InfoWars.com

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 11, 2015 1:55PM (EDT)

  (Lucas Jackson Reuters /Landov)
(Lucas Jackson Reuters /Landov)

Amidst a declared state of emergency in Ferguson, Missouri during the one-year marking of Michael Brown's death, a small contingent of heavily armed men arrived in town to patrol protests and "protect reporters" from Alex Jones' Infowars website.

Sometime after midnight "a group of five white men who call themselves the Oath Keepers arrived on the scene," St. Louis Public Radio reported and according to CNN, "a man out on patrol described the group as constitutionalists who were hired to protect reporters for InfoWars.com, a web site run by radio host Alex Jones."

The Oath Keepers were dressed in camouflage bullet proof vest and carried assault rifles.

The Oath Keepers, a self-declared patriot group, claim to be veterans and active-duty members of both the military and first responders, such as police and firefighters and as Mother Jones explains, it's this membership (they claim to have 30,000 members nationwide) that sets the Oath Keepers apart from other anti-government groups:

There are scores of patriot groups, but what makes Oath Keepers unique is that its core membership consists of men and women in uniform, including soldiers, police, and veterans. At regular ceremonies in every state, members reaffirm their official oaths of service, pledging to protect the Constitution—but then they go a step further, vowing to disobey "unconstitutional" orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government.

Police Chief Jon Belmar, who spent much of the night attempting to deescalate tension by speaking with some demonstrators, called the presence of an armed militia "both unnecessary and inflammatory."

And protestors were not pleased to see the heavily armed group. This is the second time the group described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "fiercely anti-government, militaristic group," has come to Ferguson. The group of armed men arrived in town late last year after protests reignited over a grand jury decision not to charge former officer Darren Wilson with the shooting death of Brown.

"I'm happy that we're able to defend ourselves," one Oath Keeper told a protestor who confronted the armed group. "It's been our right for a long time."

Watch protestors in Ferguson confront the Oath Keepers courtesy of NBC News:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Alex Jones Ferguson Guns Infowars Militia Oath Keepers Protests Race