Heavily-armed members of a controversial right-wing “patriot” group added an extra dose of unease to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, early Tuesday.
The Oath Keepers organization says its members — all former military, police and first responders — pledge to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
However, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described their presence as “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”
Protesters and police confirmed that a handful of Oath Keepers with what appeared to be assault rifles, bulletproof vest and camouflage gear were seen early Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson, which was under a state of emergency following demonstrations pegged to the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
Several protesters confronted members of the group, asking why they were allowed to openly carry weapons.