Earlier this month, Oath Keepers, a right-wing, anti-government militia group, announced it was going to arm Black protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, with assault rifles. The move was to challenge Missouri’s open carry law and to show that the organization was not racist. But the announcement of the march caused dissension among Oath Keeper national leadership who, according to the Oath Keeper website, are all former cops.
Ferguson Oath Keeper chapter leader Sam Andrews says race played a role in the decision by the national organization to pull support from the march and he has left Oath Keepers. Andrews is quoted in a conservative anti-government website as stating, “I can’t have my name associated with an organization that doesn’t believe Black people can exercise their First and Second Amendment rights at the same time.”
The decision by the national Oath Keepers board has also caused other chapters across the country to split from the parent organization. In Florida, an Oath Keeper who uses the alias James Wise stated in part, “I have to believe that an organization that is OK with a bunch of White guys pointing guns at cops in Nevada over grazing rights shouldn’t turn into complete [multiple expletives deleted] [cowards] at the thought of Blacks just holding guns in a march protesting people getting beaten and killed by cops. You know there’s something wrong there …” Wise, like many Oath Keepers, is a former member of the military. A number of Oath Keepers are reportedly former Green Berets.
Andrews has stated that he intends to make sure the march still takes place and that it was important that “every minority child sees that Black men can openly carry to protect their rights.”