Police ordered Oath Keepers volunteers to suspend their armed patrols against vandals and looters in Ferguson.
Members of the national organization converged on the St. Louis suburb last week when rioting broke out after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen.
The Oath Keepers are made up of law enforcement officers, current and former military personnel, and first responders who have vowed not to enforce gun laws and others they deem to be unconstitutional.
Their local organizer, Sam Andrews, told reporters last week the armed Oath Keeper patrols were prepared to use lethal force to protect private property and the rights of peaceful protesters.
The Oath Keepers declined to say how many members came from around the country for overnight patrols of the city.
The group’s national leader, Stewart Rhodes, told BenSwann.com that federal agent and state highway patrol officers pointed sniper rifles at Oath Keepers last week during their overnight rooftop patrols.
“We had an alarming incident that happened last night with our team spotting what looked like a fed three-man sniper team moving into a nearby house on higher ground, and then pointing their rifles at our team of American combat veterans, while our team was guarding the buildings against looters,” Rhodes told the website.
Police questioned them early in the week and allowed their patrols to continue, but on Saturday the St. Louis County Police Department ordered them to suspend the patrols, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Rhodes stressed that he did not believe local police had been coordinating with the state and federal authorities.
The volunteers reluctantly came down from their rooftop positions after police threatened to arrest them for operating without a license.
Rhodes vowed the Oath Keepers would return as protesters.
He insists the organization is not anti-government, and he disputed rumors that circulated among some protesters that the group was affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan.
Andrews, the local volunteer coordinator, said he took steps to keep “racists” or other “people with an ax to grind” off the patrols.
Rhodes said the armed volunteers had military, police, or emergency medical training.
He said the Oath Keepers decided to become involved due to what he described as strategic missteps by Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
“Historically, the government almost always fails to protect people,” Rhodes said.