A state of emergency in St. Louis County did not prevent a controversial patriot organization from adding to the tensions felt across Ferguson, Mo., early Tuesday.
According to NBC News, members of the Oath Keepers—an organization consisting of former members of the military, police officers and first responders that pledge to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic”—showed up at a protest heavily armed.
A handful of members, equipped with assault rifles, bulletproof vets and camouflage gear, were seen early this morning on the streets of Ferguson during the state of emergency. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called their presence “unnecessary and inflammatory.”
The group, however, stood around, with police officers reportedly not bothering them. A spokesman for the St. Louis County Police Department said that he did not think officers confronted the Oath Keepers or asked them to leave.
Demonstrators attending the protest, however, didn’t shy away from approaching the men and asking why they were allowed to openly carry their weapons.
“If there were black and brown people in this country who showed up in the streets open-carrying assault rifles in paramilitary garb, would they still be received the same way?” Democratic Committeewoman of Ferguson Township Patricia Bynes told NBC. “It seems to be that especially when it comes to the Second Amendment, there seems to be a different way that it is enforced.
“There were two blocks of police. They saw them,” Bynes added. “It’s more about the hypocrisy. Of wow, if anybody out here tried that, they’d be met with a different greeting from police.”
As NBC notes, people with concealed-weapons permits are allowed to open-carry as long as it is not in an “angry or threatening manner.”
Read more at NBC News.