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'Oath Keepers' Group Backs Out Of Protest At Maxine Waters' Office

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A protest planned for Thursday outside Congresswoman Maxine Waters' office in South Los Angeles by what she calls an anti-government militia group failed to materialize.

There was no sign of either Waters or members of the Oath Keepers group outside her Los Angeles district office, but there were plenty of onlookers and live-bloggers hanging out in front of 10124 South Broadway.

Protesters who showed up in support of Waters gathered under the watchful eyes of LAPD officers, but just before 1 p.m. an Oath Keepers representative told police the rally was called off, according to CBS2's Dave Lopez.

"She is queen Los Angeles. If you don't believe me, just ask anybody out here," said one Waters booster.

"We're not out here to hate and fight," South L.A. community activist and mainstay "Sweet Alice" Walker told CBS2. "We out here to show Maxine Waters we love her, but not to do nothing wrong!"

That's not to say the canceled protest was completely uneventful.

Video posted to social media appeared to show a man reportedly wearing a Navy cap being "escorted to his car" by a large group of protesters, one of whom appeared to be holding the man by the arm.

Los Angeles Times metro reporter Benjamin Oreskes tweeted:

"This guy in the navy hat showed up.He initially wouldnt tell people why he was here + people started to get physical with him. As he was being escorted to his car he told me he has a son in the armed service and was curious what this protest was all about but not an @Oathkeepers"

oath keepers protest
A protester leads an unidentified man reportedly wearing a Navy cap away from the site of a planned Oath Keepers protest. (Photo via Twitter)

Some members of the crowd were heard shouting at the man as they lead him away. He denied on camera being a part of the Oath Keepers group.

A truck with the American flag mounted on the back was surrounded by protesters, who then reportedly pulled the flag off the vehicle and set it on fire, according to Oreskes, who said they were chanting, "F--- the government, America was never great".

Several other protesters took to a street corner chanting "Black Power!" as they raised their fists, a scene which was captured on video streamed to social media.

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A screenshot of a Twitter live stream showing protesters raising their fists as they chanted "Black Power"

According to its website, the Oath Keepers bills itself as a "non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, police and first-responders." The group's members have been known to show up at protests and rallies across the country, often carrying military-grade weapons.

The far-right group was reportedly planning to demonstrate at Waters' offices in response to her call for people who are angry about the recent separation of families at the border to confront members of the Trump administration.

Organizers behind the group's initial call to protest at Waters' office urged supporters to "refrain from making any statements that can be
construed as threats, or construed as racially motivated, lest they accuse us of what their own side has already done. And for those who will be on the sidewalk with us, please be sure you keep your cool and stay calm, collected and professional in your dealings with the public and any counter-protesters who may show up."

Oath Keepers was founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, an Army veteran, in 2009 and claims to have about upwards of 35,000 members nationwide.

"I am requesting those individuals and groups planning a counter-protest to not be baited into confronting the Oath Keepers with any demonstrations in opposition – such an occurrence would only exacerbate tensions and increase the potential for conflict," Waters said in a statement she released Wednesday.

"The Oath Keepers have a history of engaging in violent and provocative behavior. The group is known to protest in military-style clothing while carrying various assault weapons," Waters' statement said. "The Oath Keepers would like nothing more to inflame racial tensions and create an explosive conflict in our community."

The group is known for its heavily-armed members - which includes former and active members of the law enforcement community - showing up wherever the national spotlight happens to be shining at that moment, like in Ferguson, Mo., on the anniversary of Michael Brown's fatal shooting by police.

Earlier this year, there was a call for members to stand armed guards outside schools after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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