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Heavily armed civilians with a group known as the Oath Keepers arrived in Ferguson, Mo., early Tuesday. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the overnight presence of the militia and far-right activist group — wearing camouflage bulletproof vests and openly carrying rifles and pistols on West Florissant Avenue, the hub of marches and protests for the past several days — was "both unnecessary and inflammatory." (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Ferguson, Mo., continues to stand tall as everything other towns and cities do not want to become in the United States.

On Tuesday, a white vigilante group calling itself the Oath Keepers took to the streets with assault rifles, bulletproof vests and camouflage gear.

The Oath Keepers — if they were black — would have been rousted immediately by police. But they aren't black. And their unchallenged appearance, though termed "both unnecessary and inflammatory" by St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, displays the epitome of "white privilege."

They are not adding anything but further unease to the streets of Ferguson where protests on the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's fatal shooting by a police officer flared with gunfire again when police shot and injured a man they said fired on detectives who had seen him exchange gunfire with an unknown person.

As an organization, Oath Keepers claims its more than 30,000 members are all former military, police and first responders who have pledged to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Oath Keepers as "fiercely anti-government" and "militaristic."

The Oath Keepers organization was founded in 2004 by former U.S. Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate (and ex-staffer for Ron Paul) Stewart Rhodes. Rhodes has referred to Hillary Clinton as "Hitlery" and earlier this year said Sen. John McCain should be tried for treason and "hung by the neck until dead" for going "along with the program of the destruction of this country."

Just last month, Rhodes used the deadly attack in Chattanooga to further his anti-government blasphemy. He unleashed a blistering critique of the Pentagon for failing to allow armed servicemen at recruitment centers, and according to NBC News, he told Oath Keepers to take up station where they could.

"Go armed, at all times, as free men and women, and be ready to do sudden battle, anywhere, anytime, and with utter recklessness," he wrote on the organization's website. "That IS the price of freedom."

So would someone please explain why this group of mostly or all-white malcontents can brandish hate and anger and guns on the streets of Ferguson (Missouri allows individuals with concealed weapons permits to openly display firearms, unless it is done in an "angry or threatening manner") but residents of a city that is 67 percent black cannot?

Several of Ferguson's peaceful protesters wondered that, too, on Tuesday, confronting members of Oath Keepers and asking why they were being allowed to openly carry weapons.

Patricia Bynes, Democratic Committeewoman of Ferguson Township, was one who noticed.

"If there were black and brown people in this country who showed up in the streets open-carrying assault rifles in paramilitary garb would they still be received the same way?" she asked. "It seems to be that especially when it comes to the Second Amendment there seems to be a different way that it is enforced. There were two blocks of police. They saw them," she said.

She called it what it is: "Hypocrisy."

"Oh, wow, if anybody out here [black Ferguson residents] tried that they'd be met with a different greeting from police," Bynes said.

After the Micheal Brown shooting on Aug. 9, 2014, Bynes, 34, found herself thrust into the role of mediator for police and for residents where she had lived for 14 years.

"I was in the unique position of being able to see both sides," she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in September. "I understood where the anger was coming from. But there were times when I felt more comfortable being behind the police lines."

So Bynes, with a level head and good grounding of community, continues to ask questions.

She knows it's too important — not just to Ferguson, but to all of us — to keep asking until we get right answers.

Meanwhile, the inflamers, no matter what their color or station in life, should take their guns and go home.

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