Oath Keepers caused a stir when they appeared in Ferguson in August.
When the Oath Keepers showed up in Ferguson this past August
wearing body armor and carrying rifles, the reaction from protesters and residents spanned confusion to outright anger. Sam Andrews, a spokesman for the group, told reporters at the time that he'd been moved after talking to black protesters who believed they would be shot by police if they carried rifles on their own streets.
“We intend to show that this right is not just for white people,” Andrews, who is white, told
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
He proposed organizing an open-carry march through Ferguson, with the explicit goal of putting firearms into the hands of black residents.
But the march didn't happen in August. Andrews' pronouncements ticked off other members of the Oath Keepers, leading to a messy break-up with the group
. Last week, Andrews announced
that the racially integrated march would take place today at 11 a.m. Participants will meet at the outdoor pavilion at South Florissant Road and Suburban Avenue and then walk to the Ferguson Police Department.
It's worth noting that Andrews, like his former comrades in the Oath Keepers, has a particular ideological bent when it comes to the Second Amendment. It's a perspective that follows a conspiracist worldview that sees police departments as an arm of a "new world order" bent on global domination, and not, as black activists insist, a reflection of America's legacy of systematized racism and unacknowledged white supremacy.
That point of contention was fleshed out in an August feature story published by Gawker
, in which Andrew advocated gun ownership as a primary method for combating police oppression:
Where [Oath Keepers member Larry] Kirk and Andrews agree—and where they might clash with mainline Black Lives Matter activists—is that one key to ending police oppression in black communities should be lawfully arming residents there. “Arm yourselves with weapons and arm yourselves with knowledge,” Andrews said. “If you introduce weapons with skills and knowledge about your rights, it will absolutely solve the problem, and quickly.” Andrews said that many of the protesters he had spoken with on Monday and Tuesday asked him what kind of gun he was carrying, to which he answered “It’s the kind you should be carrying so the police can’t abuse you.” He was carrying a custom-built AR-15 assault rifle.
It remains to be seen if Andrews and his ilk can make inroads with the black activist groups and residents in Ferguson. Today's forecast calls for rain.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com