They’d be dead if they were black (Updated)

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(NBC News photo)

 

Does anybody really believe that if a gang of black men strolled into the middle of the protests in Ferguson, MO, wearing camo, body armor, and carrying high-powered semiautomatic rifles they’d be greeted by local law enforcement with the open arms and camaraderie that were extended to the Oath Keepers?

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Oath Keepers are an anti-government self-proclaimed citizen militia, a “Patriot” group founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, an Army veteran and graduate of Yale Law School. The group is a …

… rapidly growing organization comprised mostly of active-duty police and military, as well as veterans, who fret about things like gun control and the much-feared “New World Order.” Members swear (a second time) to uphold their oath to the Constitution and not to obey orders they think conflict with that. Among those orders (10 “Orders We Will Not Obey” are listed on the Oath Keepers website): Imposing martial law or a state of emergency on a state, and forcing those who resist into detention camps.

As the Guardian newspaper reported, at the same time the Oath Keepers were openly displaying their paramilitary firepower,

a group of at least three black men who were standing by a car next to a hair salon on West Florissant Avenue were arrested after a phalanx of St Louis County police surged towards them, using pepper spray and batons. A spokesman for police department told the Guardian by email on Tuesday that officers had received information “that the occupants or folks near that vehicle were possibly armed with handguns”.

But the spokesman later confirmed that none of those arrested during the swoop were in possession of any weapons.

Call me naive, but if the Oath Keepers were black I doubt we would have seen them standing shoulder to shoulder with local police. We instead would have seen a firefight and a bloodbath on the streets of Ferguson.

And the cops would have been the first to pull the trigger.

**Update**

Vox has an explainer up on the Oath Keepers, including a list of the 10 “Orders We Will Not Obey”:

  1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
  2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people.
  3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
  4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
  5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
  6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
  8. We will NOT obey any orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on US soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
  9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.