In what is becoming a regular part of the scene on the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, members of the right-wing revolutionary group the Oath Keepers showed up in full military regalia and weaponry last night. As Mother Jones‘ Inae Oh notes, this isn’t the first time this has happened, and while the local po po didn’t seem pleased to see them, it’s not like they were arrested or anything:

As demonstrators gathered in Ferguson to continue commemorating the one year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Monday, five heavily-armed men belonging to a vigilante group called the Oath Keepers were spotted patrolling the streets. According to reports, the Oath Keepers said they were on the scene to provide voluntary protection to a journalist working for the site InfoWars, the conspiracy mill run by noted lunatic Alex Jones….

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the group’s presence on Monday both “unnecessary and inflammatory.”

Their arrival came amid 23 arrests last night. Police said those arrested in the largely peaceful protests were throwing bottles at law enforcement officials and “unlawfully assembled.”

During the same time last year, Oath Keeper members took it upon themselves to guard the city’s rooftops with assault rifles. Police officials eventually ordered the group to leave, saying their presence was inciting fear and suspicion in an already tense situation. However, no members were arrested.

The mysterious group, who called themselves voluntary “patriots,” primarily consists of heavily-armed white men dressed in military uniform. Many of them are former soldiers and police officials.

Reading this, I wondered, as I often do when white folks who believe they are obeying some “higher law” armed themselves to the teeth, what would happen if some black nationalist group openly deployed in Ferguson carrying assault rifles. I don’t think they’d be asked politely to leave.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.