The Oath Keepers, an activist group comprised mostly of current and former soldiers, police and first responders who profess to defend the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment, are encouraging African-Americans in Ferguson, Missouri, to arm themselves to prevent police abuse, St. Louis–area Oath Keeper Sam Andrews tells Newsweek.
The Oath Keepers drew significant media attention last week when several heavily armed members arrived in Ferguson amid violent protests. On the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, 18-year-old Tyrone Harris was shot by police after allegedly firing at them. The Oath Keepers said they were there to protect local businesses and escort some journalists.
Andrews, an engineer who has worked as a Department of Defense contractor, says the Oath Keepers have learned that many African-American protesters and residents are fearful of bearing arms. He says many African-Americans in Ferguson told him they feel that if they carried the same weapons as Oath Keepers, police would kill them.
“I kept telling them, ‘No, they won’t,’ and they kept saying, ‘Yes, they will shoot us,’” Andrews says. “Then I realized we had a problem. It wasn’t three people—it was everyone that felt that way.” Andrews says he usually carries a .308 semiautomatic rifle and a sidearm.
“St. Louis County police have so violated the people’s rights that the people in the black communities here believe if they even thought about publicly exercising their God-given right for protection, for carrying a firearm, that they would be shot dead by the police—that’s a real issue,” he says.
In Andrews’s opinion, this fear has contributed to destructive protests.
“They don’t know how to react to the abuse, so they throw rocks and bottles and do other silly stuff, but we are flying black Oath Keepers in from around the country to educate the black leaders and the people of Ferguson that not only can you open carry, you should open carry,” he says. “The peaceful protesters, the lawful people which make up the vast majority of protesters, should be quietly standing there with rifles, saying: ‘We’re not going to take this abuse anymore.’”
“It’s one thing to say, “I hate you, and I throw a rock at you,’” he continues. “It’s another thing to stand there and say, ‘Don’t screw with me anymore,’ and be able to back it up.”
Did he think that bringing more weapons into Ferguson would further inflame tensions?
“Well, I would say, if you want to continue to believe those lies, go right ahead—then problems like Ferguson will never be solved,” he says. “But if you can educate people to stand up for their rights and secure their own communities, then you don’t need this militarized police force in your neighborhood every night.”
While the Oath Keepers support protesters’ right to bear arms, Andrews denies reports that the group planned on giving guns to them directly.
Source: Newsweek | Victoria Bekiempis