Heavily-armed members of a controversial patriot militia added an extra dose of unease to protests early Tuesday in Ferguson, Missouri, NBC News reported.
Protesters and police confirmed that a handful of Oath Keepers, who take a pledge to defend the Constitution, were seen early Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson, carrying assault rifles, bulletproof vests and camouflage gear. The city was under a state of emergency following demonstrations pegged to the anniversary of Michael Brown's death.
The Oath Keepers organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News. Members of the organization were in Ferguson late last year when protests reignited over a grand jury decision not to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, who killed Brown.
Shawn McGuire, a spokesman for St. Louis County Police, said he did not believe officers had confronted the Oath Keepers or told to leave: "We do not know who sent them."