FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Members of an armed militia group patrolling the streets of Ferguson have drawn criticism from the county police chief overseeing security in the St. Louis suburb.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said Tuesday that the overnight presence of the Oath Keepers, wearing bulletproof vests and openly carrying rifles and pistols on West Florissant Avenue was “both unnecessary and inflammatory.”
The street has been the focus of demonstrations marking the anniversary of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The far-right anti-government activist group largely comprises past and present military personnel, first responders and law enforcement personnel. Oath Keepers appeared in Ferguson in November saying they were protecting businesses from rioting and looters.
The Associated Press left a message with John Karriman, a representative of the group in Missouri.
Belmar plans to ask county prosecutor Bob McCulloch about the legality of the group’s armed patrols.