(Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat and not even try to delude ourselves. If a bunch of black guys showed up in the middle of Ferguson, Missouri carrying assault rifles they'd either buried under every cop within a mile radius or shot dead like Sonny on the causeway in about ten seconds. Hell, if you're a black guy without a gun you stand a better than average chance of being thrown to the ground and arrested in Ferguson right now, so the last thing you want to be if you're black is armed -- at least if you value all that breathing you regularly do. Missouri law may allow those with concealed carry permits to openly display their weapons, provided it isn't done in an "angry or threatening manner," but come on. Be real here. That's what the law looks like on paper -- not in the middle of West Florissant Avenue where violent unrest has created an environment that's 100% tits-up.
Knowing this, it might surprise you to learn -- or, sadly, maybe it won't surprise you at all -- that a bunch of hyper-right-wing asshole white guys armed with camo-skinned AR-15 Bushmasters are right now at this very moment wandering the streets of Ferguson in an effort to protect, I don't know -- liberty, or something. They're members of the Oath Keepers, an indescribably crazy group of vigilante "patriots" formed back in 2009, right about the time every redneck militia in the country was dusting off its Gadsden flags and locking-and-loading in preparation for the coming Kenyan junta.
The Oath Keepers are made up of ex-police and military who believe, among other things, that America is seconds away from descending into a dystopian hellscape, compliments of an order given by Barack Hussein Obama that will bring U.S. and U.N. troops pouring into every little town on the map, with orders to disarm us all and put us in FEMA camps. The whole Jade Helm thing?It's the Oath Keepers who've promised to defend us from that. The idiots who pointed semi-automatic weapons at government agents during the Cliven Bundy stand-off? That's them too. They're fucking wack-jobs -- but they're heavily armed wack-jobs.
Given the kind of unmitigated conspiracist crap the Oath Keepers live neck-deep in, it only makes sense that the stated reason for their being in Ferguson right now involves providing security for Alex Jones's InfoWars "journalists," who have likewise descended on that town to "document" supposed police abuses. The InfoWars goon squad was in Ferguson the last time around, a year ago, when I was there for The Daily Banter. You could spot them from a light-year away because they were a) all white, b) mostly young and male, c) dressed in all black, and d) carrying not only camera equipment but high-end gas masks so that they could get in on the action if it came to that.
In fact, an infamous and highly publicized encounter that was supposedly between a cop and a journalist actually involved one of the InfoWars clowns. Remember the story of the police officer who pointed a gun at a member of the media and shouted, "I will fucking kill you?" Well, the guy being shouted at was the leader of the InfoWars group. The cop absolutely shouldn't have said that, but the only reason I tended not to take the incident as seriously as other police offenses in Ferguson during the protests was that King InfoWars and his crew almost certainly went out of their way to provoke any and every cop they could get close to (as opposed to many of the actual protesters, who were attacked for no good reason whatsoever).
And that's the real issue with the Oath Keepers roaming the streets of Ferguson: their very presence as an armed white militia, untouched by the very same police bringing the hammer down on local residents -- you know, people who actually live in Ferguson -- proves the point the protesters are trying to make about white privilege and their place on the social ladder. The Oath Keepers are a bunch of white anti-government dingbats who don't give a single fuck about those protesting in Ferguson. Sure, they may despise what they believe is the rising police state, but they're facing no resistance from the actual police on the scene -- far from it. Also, it's important to keep in mind that the last time they took up positions in the battle-torn town of Ferguson it was to defend non-black businesses in the wake of a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer who killed Mike Brown. And now they've rolled into town once again, this time with a bunch of conspiracy theorists looking to prove that they've discovered Ground Zero in the coming race war.
As if there aren't enough edgy white guys with assault rifles in Ferguson right now.