Ferguson: What could go wrong?

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126 Responses

  1. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Hypothetical time: If a group of heavily armed black men arrived in Ferguson to “patrol” do you think they’d be asked politely to leave?Report

  2. Avatar LWA says:

    So let me get this straight-

    Weren’t Oathkeepers the guys who said they would never side with the government to turn their guns on the American people?Report

    • Avatar Dand says:

      From the article zic linked to:

      According to the self-identified patriot group’s website, Oath Keepers are “formerly serving military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” However, the group is widely perceived as an anti-government vigilante organization.
      In a communique released several weeks after Michael Brown was shot and killed last year, the group released a communique blasting law enforcement’s treatment of Ferguson protesters. It said:

      The current riot control tactics of the local police, rooted in outmoded techniques developed in the 1950’s—and only made worse by the ongoing militarization of our police—are failing the people of Ferguson, giving them a false choice between rampant looting on the one hand, and hyper-militarized police and curfews on the other (which also fail to stop the looting, leaving the mistaken impression among many of the American people that even more militarization and curtailment of free speech and assembly is needed).

      One officer in St. Louis, Dan Page, was suspended last year for his racist and sexist rhetoric at an Oath Keeper meeting. He was relieved of duty weeks into the Ferguson protests, when video of his April tirade went viral. Page was charged with quelling the unrest in the aftermath of Brown’s death.
      The group has been active in other parts of the country as well. During the armed standoff between Cliven Bundy — an outlaw rancher who refused to relinquish his cattle — and federal officials, Oath Keepers descended on Nevada to provide the rancher with additional manpower.


      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        So they’re in Ferguson, in their play-acting military uniforms, with assault rifles to…defend the protesters?

        That is your belief?Report

        • Avatar dragonfrog says:

          And take a stand against police militarization. Don’t forget that part – they’re in favour of random whacknut militarization, not police militarization.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Who do you trust more:

            Random whacknuts or the police?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Really? Because I find myself in a sea of random whacknuts every day and I am at ease until I notice cops start showing up.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I meant “false dichotomy” in the sense that there’s a significant overlap between “random whacknuts” and “police”. Maybe I should have used “false distinction”.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                brilliant way to save the fumble, @glyphReport

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Sorry? The way I used it is one way to use the term (though people often use it to mean that a distinct third alternative is being elided, rather than meaning that the first two alternatives overlap).Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                That’s what I mean by the brilliant save.

                I was complimenting you for seeing the layers, not just the reflected heat.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Find me a police that’s dumb enough to put a lien on a judge.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                The wind is in the buffalo.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Agent 67138 reporting for duty, sir. Your orders?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Find me a police that’s dumb enough to put a lien on a judge. And make it snappy!Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                I find that also, but then part of the reason I’m made uneasy by the cops is their militarization.

                The random whacknuts I find myself surrounded by aren’t generally militarized – believing more than I do in the virtues of essential oils, this month’s diet fad, or the Bilderberg group’s involvement in drinking water fluoridation does not threaten me much.

                Voluntarily showing up, white and conspicuously armed, at a scene of considerable unrest and anger over the actions of white men with guns, thinking your presence is going to somehow help calm things down – that’s rather more than the level of whacknuttery I’m accustomed to. I really can’t predict how I’d feel.

                Come to think of it – in this case, they’re not random whacknuts. They’re export-grade whacknuts, the cream (or scum?) that rose to the top of the entire nation’s pool of whacknuts.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I am only going to add that, of the two groups who are armed, which group, if they chose to open fire, would be prosecuted aggressively by the state, and which would enjoy an enthusiastic pass & cover-up?Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                I do count more than two groups:

                oath keepers,
                native carriers both legal and illegalReport

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                3 of those groups fall into the “armed civilian whacknuts ” category.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                Well clearly three of them are “armed civilians.”

                Personally I’d guess three of them are also “armed whacknuts,” but the overlap of the two sets only has two members.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Who are you callin’ a dichotomy?!Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:


                Debate did a job on me,
                Now I am a real sickie
                Guess I’ll have to break the news
                That I got no cites to use

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Lyrics by The Bemoans.Report

              • Avatar Dave says:

                I guess I better start head banging…against a wall!!!Report

            • Avatar LWA says:

              I’ll go with the dichotomy angle.

              As if the option of a professional civilian police force, and a civilized society, is simply too outrageous to be considered.

              And being the anti-gun nut I am, I will suggest that of the 2 options Jaybird presents, each feeds off of, and justifies, the other.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                If I can riff off of you for a bit, @lwa …

                (warning, thinking out loud) I’ve started to think about the monopoly of force that the state has as less of a necessary power of government, and more of a (at least in society like America) public trust.

                In the interest of maintaining civility & order, we the people place in the government a public trust for the use of violence (reserving for ourselves only the reasonable minimum needed for defense of self & family). If the government begins to abuse that trust, by employing violence carelessly & capriciously, and without responsibility &/or any ensuing justice, then the people will begin to take that trust back, even if they aren’t consciously, willfully doing it.

                And of course the more the police employ violence, the more aggressively people will claim it for themselves. And we get groups like The Black Panthers, Oath Keepers, Huey P Long (this trend has been growing since the Civil Rights Era).

                So LWA is right, the two feed on each other, but it isn’t about guns, except that in America (& other places), guns are the symbol of the right to exercise violence, the vehicle, if you will, that this is all expressed through. And I think that the Drug War, and the racism of the justice system, have served to rob whole minority communities of this symbol, while at the same time bringing oppressive violence against them.

                OK, that last bit is still rolling around in my head. Feel free to pile on.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Can one ‘pile on’ with loud applause and agreement?


              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I was hoping more some stark disagreement, you people are the crucible through which I tend to fire & distill my ideas.

                But applause if you must, I will be gracious.Report

              • Avatar LWA says:

                I recall reading that Latin American rebel groups used the strategy of provoking the government to violence, by small scale bombings and shootings. Which would then result in a harsh crackdown of arrests and torture by the government, alienating and terrorizing the people, pushing some into the arms of the rebels, who would then continue the cycle.

                I used to like cop shows, back in the day. Now when Mrs. LWA watches her shows like CSI or NCIS, I can barely watch, feeling nothing but scorn and contempt for what appears in my eyes to be the smug agit prop of the security state. The fresh faced kids clickety clacking on their computers and in an instant summoning up the entire life history of any person, the earnest investigator who brutalizes the guilty arrestee into confession, these things only cause me to silently wish for one of the suspects to blow that nice Mark Harmon away.

                I don’t like this feeling. When I surf past TV Land and see Barney and Andy dressed in slacks and pressed shirts and never carrying anything more than a sidearm, in a world of peace and trust, where the cop who actually pulls his weapon is mocked as a bumbling fool, I become one of those conservative middle aged farts who dreams of a bygone age.

                But even then, I have to remind myself that maybe Mayberry was the truth, the actual lived experience for a lot of people in North Carolina in the 50’s and 60’s.

                But not all of the people. Only the ones who were white and prosperous. For others, the systemic violence and menace and intimidation that we see now, was present then.

                People like me- white, male, Christian, prosperous- are just now witnessing what they have always experienced.

                Which is why, even with the undercurrent of rage and loathing I feel towards the unjust system, I wouldn’t have any less scorn for the OathKeepers even if they were the Socialist Vanguard For The Protection Of The Proletariat.

                Because whats the end game here, how do they expect this all to play out?

                With sufficiently fearsome firepower, they expect the unjust gummint/ looters to cower and change their ways and behave nicely?

                Or would they just react like the Latin American governments, to resort to ever more brutal and horrifying tactics to gain control?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s interesting how the only moral agents in that are the Oath Keepers.

                With sufficiently fearsome firepower, they expect the unjust gummint/ looters to cower and change their ways and behave nicely?

                This is why I found the Bundy Ranch confrontation so very, very interesting.Report

              • Avatar LWA says:

                So did I.

                Well, only if “interesting” means “depressingly familiar”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My baseline was Ruby Ridge/Waco.

                As such, I found Bundy to be quite novel.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I think a lot of people had that in their heads with regard to Bundy. He may have been breaking the law, but our LEAs have been too free with violence, and remote locations free of stray cameras (as one example on the list) do tend to bring out the worst.Report

              • Avatar LWA says:

                But you guys understand why people like me don’t see Bundy as any sort of victim here?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, I wasn’t seeing Bundy as novel because I thought he was any sort of victim.

                I thought Bundy was novel because I expected him to become one.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                This! David Koresh wasn’t a saint either, but lots of people died at Waco who didn’t deserve to.

                So Jaybird & myself see Bundy and see what was shaping up to be another Ruby Ridge or Waco, with innocents killed or hurt, except for the presence of armed outsiders, who suddenly altered the calculus of the police from storming in with guns drawn, to let’s just wait this out.

                And we aren’t the only ones. So in Ferguson, for instance, where the potential exists for the police to employ violence carelessly & capriciously, suddenly people are there, who are armed, who have expressed issues with police violence & the violation of civil rights, and the calculus changes, as people reclaim the public trust of violence for themselves, because the police can’t be trusted with it.Report

              • Bundy had just enough sense not to set himself on fire.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Perhaps, but the FBI knew they were setting up flammables, yet stopped the fire trucks at the perimeter & kept attacking the structure.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                People like me- white, male, Christian, prosperous- are just now witnessing what they have always experienced.

                Yep. This is why I said this started in the Civil Rights Era. A lot of the state & local (& even some federal) gun laws on the books are relics of Jim Crow, where the original intent was that they were never meant to be applied to white folk. It’s why I agitate for their change, because they aren’t fair, they never were, because they were never intended to be, since only minorities would suffer under them.

                Because whats the end game here, how do they expect this all to play out?

                Hence my comment below about cameras & firearms. Our system, for all it’s warts, still works. The Soap Box & the Ballot Box still have value & can effect change. I bristle at folks who even threaten the Ammo Box against government abuses when the first two options are still very much in play. They aren’t helping to protect gun rights.Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    And there is an alliance to watch, #blackopencarry.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    Of for fishes sake….some dumbing f’ing people. Go be dumb in your own home.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    If they are being consistent, they are there to protect the protesters from police violence.

    Beyond that, I have no idea what they are going to do.

    @morat20 Your hypothetical isn’t so much. If any of those black protesters were armed, even peacefully, I doubt the police would be so restrained as they are with the Oath Keepers. Of course, having a bunch of armed friends nearby does tend to keep the police on their best behavior.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        The difference between a planned assault & an unplanned, uncontrolled FUBAR can not be overstated.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          I thought it might amuse you. I’ve actually wondered that this has been silent in the media. Should be rearing it’s ugly head as court cases unfold.

          I’ve wondered if there’s a whole element to hippie punching here? Do biker gangs get the worst of the hippie punching?Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:

      having a bunch of armed friends nearby does tend to keep the police on their best behavior

      Not sure how true this is, except if you’re a lunatic white rancher stealing from the feds.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        It’s true in the sense that the cops don’t want a gun fight that they haven’t planned for and prepped for (well, nobody with any sense wants any kind of gun fight, but cops seem to have a habit of convincing themselves that they can plan & control a gun fight to their satisfaction – which is why we have SWAT raids on baby cribs).Report

        • Avatar nevermoor says:

          I suspect ONE gun in a mass of black Ferguson protestors would bring on some awful police behavior. I don’t see any reason to believe five would change that (vs. providing additional justification for the resulting death toll as simply being “death by cop”)Report

    • If they were being consistent, they wouldn’t have suddenly discovered that the federal government claimed the right to kidnap and torture people in 2009.Report

  6. Avatar aarondavid says:

    I predict that the Oath Keepers and (if they show up) Huey P. Newton Gun Club will do nothing. They will have zero bearing on the situation.

    I predict that this is much more likely.

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    At the risk of losing my gun nuts cred, I am going to add this:

    While I absolutely support the right of the OKs to attend the protest armed, it is not the smartest move to make.

    If I was in charge of the show, I’d advise the OKs that, if they really want to be armed, keep it an unobtrusive as possible (holstered pistol, ideally – certainly nothing in the hands), but I would not encourage being armed. At least, not with guns. Police, if they want to, can provoke the situation until an armed OK makes enough of a mistake to give the police the barest of justifications to employ force, and then it will go pear-shaped in a hurry and the likelihood of the OKs coming out looking like anything other than trigger happy nuts is slim.

    Rather, I’d have everyone equipped with multiple body cams all uploading to secure sites/servers, and then send them out in groups to record everything & anything the police do. Right now, the best tool we have to reform the police is turning public opinion against the police enough to force reform, and that involves having clear, convincing evidence of bad behavior & over-reactions.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      They’ve called a state of emergency, does that impact open carry rights?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Nope, just bank runs.

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Katrina caused a lot of state laws to change such that a State of Emergency / Martial Law specifically does not impact firearm carry (the thinking being that if things are bad enough to declare a SOM/ML, the police have lost much of their ability to maintain order & disarming people is counter-productive).

        A quick check of MO seems to indicate that SOM/ML does not imapct carry rights.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      At the risk of losing my gun nuts cred, I am going to add this:

      Yer right. All the cred you built up all these years? Pffft. Gone!

      Actually, I like to think that “gun rights” folk would realize that the world is a nuanced place and that often enough a hammer, in this case attached to a trigger, isn’t always the appropriate tool. So it depends on what a gun nut is trying to accomplish, seems to me. If the goal is to demonstrate that armed civilians can counter police abuses by a demonstrable show of arms, well, that’s one thing. If the goal is curtail police abuse in either the short or long term, then it seems like having lots of cameras rolling would be a better option. Especially since the threat of violence directed against police, real or imagined, from a vigilante force will only compound the problematic dynamic in play. Eg, by compelling cops to define a plan whereby future threats are met with even greater force.

      I just don’t think a logic of meeting force with a greater opposing force will yield the right resolution to situations like this.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      Streaming cameras and *gas masks*.

      There are sometimes laws against concealing your face in public, so what we want is some sort of breather mask and clear goggles.

      Also, battery-power fans.

      And something to dispose of the gas grenades in. (What happens if you put them in water?)

      When did we give the police the right to randomly assault people with tear gas and pepper spray anyway?Report

  8. Avatar zic says:

    Channel 4’s report:


  9. Avatar Kazzy says:

    When I was called for jury duty, I sat next to an Oath Keeper who described the organization in a very interesting matter and somewhat differently from the “official” literature. I’m curious how organized a group they are.Report

  10. Avatar notme says:

    So for all of the dire warnings about armed white men in the streets, has anything gone wrong?Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    To what extent do acts like this one change the narrative about the Oath Keepers?Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      It won’t change the narrative bc few if any people will hear about it.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      It leaves with the same opinion of the OK’s. Adding more guns doesn’t likely make a tense situation better and it has the potential to inflame things. The OK’s are former cops or military. Maybe they should be speaking loudly to THEIR FORMER COP bro’s about treating minority people like crap. Maybe they could clean about what they seen to change the minds of people who don’t think the cops are often in the wrong. Maybe they could work to change the cops instead working on pushing 2nd amendment issues. That is quite of bit of what that article talks about, gun rights.

      If it matters, and i’m sure it doesn’t, i can find a couple articles about people in Ferguson pissed off about the OK’s there.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        greginak: Maybe they should be speaking loudly to THEIR FORMER COP bro’s about treating minority people like crap.

        One could make the argument that that is exactly what they are doing, by showing up & standing with the protesters.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Well they are standing with protesters, at least in their own words, and working for 2nd amendment freedoms they see being denied. Goodie for them but i’ve also seen articles from people from Ferguson wondering what the heck those dudes are doing and why. But in any case, just standing is nice but let them go loud and proud with how the cops hurt minority communities, let them call out their fellow cops and go all in for police reform.

          You can say i’m suspicious of the OK’s and that would be true. I see little benefit from adding more armed people to a situation like this. I don’t’ see or hear them talking about the systematic problems with cops or the justice system . Since they are a conservative org they could, theoretically, do a lot to challenge the conservative narrative about cops should just be supported and cheered for defending us against the dangerous hoards.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            That’s fine, be suspicious, but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

            They are there, standing with the protesters, publicly saying police should respect civil rights.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              I’ve done some quick rereads of piece i’ve read in the last few days. Some of the OK’s said they were there protecting a reporter for Infowars, alex jones nutball website. Some residents were very puzzled and not happy with them there. At least one store owner was happy with them there.

              Maybe some of them are really trying to protect protesters. I still doubt put more armed people into that situation is a good idea. They are protecting the rights they care about but aren’t going all in.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              Yeah, seriously. I used to think the Oath Keepers were, well, anti-Obama idiots. I was assuming they were basically an analogy with the Tea Party, like:

              Pretending taxes suddenly got higher:Tea Party::Pretending we’re in danger of the government ordering attacks on civilians:Oath Keepers

              Both of which *mysteriously* happened the second a Democrat got into office.

              But, hey, just like I got some respect for local Tea Partiers when they attempted to push for solar power interconnectivity as a ‘get the government-regulated monopoly out of our power’ (And seemed completely shocked when the Republicans betrayed them for corporate interests, heh.), I guess I have to change my mind about the OK.

              I’m not quite forgetting that they seemed a hella paranoid about the idea of the US government ordering attacks on civilians, when in reality a much bigger danger is, uh…what happens in Ferguson…but they’re *in* Ferguson, so, hell, they must have figure it out too.

              And on top of that, their mere existence is pointing out the sort of insane hypocrisy about how police treat unarmed black protesters as much more dangerous than armed white protesters. I mean, people were making comparisons about that for ages, but it’s literally happening in plain sight of people now.Report