St. Louis County Chief Calls Militia Group Oath Keepers “Inflammatory”


The return of an armed militia group patrolling the streets of Ferguson, Mo., drew criticism yesterday from both protesters and the county police chief overseeing security amid ongoing demonstrations marking the anniversary of 18-year-old Michael Brown's shooting death, reports the Associated Press. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the overnight presence of the Oath Keepers, wearing camouflage bulletproof vests and openly carrying rifles and pistols on West Florissant Avenue, the hub of marches and protests for the past several days, was “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”

Belmar will ask county prosecutor Bob McCulloch about the legality of armed patrols by the far-right anti-government activist group, which includes past and present members of the military, first responders and police officers. Missouri law allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to display a firearm anywhere in the state. John Karriman, a representative of the group who teaches at the Missouri Southern State University police academy, said there were five armed Oath Keepers at Monday night protests and a larger number of unarmed members stationed nearby to try to help keep the peace. He said members plan to remain in Ferguson “at least through the end of the week.”

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