Lead Story West Edition

Oath Keepers find an unwelcome mat in South L.A.

By Dennis J. Freeman

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — Auntie Maxine has backup so the protesters were a no-show.

The Oath Keepers, an anti-government right-wing militia group, took on a boastful tone last week in announcing the members would make a lot of noise outside of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters’ district office on South Broadway.

But after a lot of talking, the Oath Keepers failed to make their own scheduled appearance July 19. It was probably a good thing because local residents and community members decided they would come out and meet up with the outsiders to counter their demonstration.

Anyone that didn’t look familiar to the neighborhood locals found themselves run out of the area. If you were white and not wearing either a law enforcement or media badge, you were asked what your intentions were. Several individuals were personally escorted from the area courtesy of local enforcers.

The back-and-forth banter between Waters and President Donald Trump over the last two years has spilled over into local communities and several states. Recently, Waters had to cancel appearances in Texas and Alabama due to death threats after she urged supporters to push back against Trump and his backers.

According to its website, the Oath Keepers are made up of current and former police, military and first responders who pledge to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Apparently, Waters officially became the enemy after she told her backers to go anywhere to confront Trump sympathizers and supporters.

“If you see anybody from that [Trump] cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them! And you tell them that they are not welcome any more, anywhere,” Water said.

Members of the Oath Keepers see what Waters said as an incitement of terrorism. In a released statement on its web page, the Oath Keepers announced that the proposed protests could last for an undetermined time.

The Oath Keepers, which has over 560,000 likes on it Facebook page, released the following statement on why it did not show up for their own call to action against Waters.

The statement said Los Angeles police officers “informed our leadership that there were already 50 Maxine Waters supporters in front of her office armed with steel pipes and baseball bats. And LAPD also stated there were three busloads full of other Maxine Waters supporters staged nearby, waiting for us to arrive before they deployed.

“LAPD advised our on-the-ground leadership that LAPD could not guarantee the safety of any protesters, and strongly advised that the protest not be held because of the danger,” the statement added.

“LAPD added that if a riot occurred, and we were attacked, the LAPD officers would withdraw and we would be on our own.

“Given the high likelihood of lethal force violence (steel pipes and baseball bats to the head are clearly lethal force), and out of concern for the safety of other peaceful protesters such as the MAGA Girls, our advance team leader made the decision to cancel the protest. Which only proves our point,” the statement continued.

“You can’t even hold a peaceful protest in front of Maxine Waters’ office, protesting her incitement of her supporters to violence, without facing the violence of her supporters, to the point of lethal force.”

After learning of the planned protest, Waters issued a statement July 18 urging her supporters “not to be baited into confronting the Oath Keepers with any demonstrations in opposition.” She said such a confrontation “would only exacerbate tensions and increase the potential for conflict.”

Waters said the Oath Keepers “would like nothing more than to inflame racial tensions and create an explosive conflict in our community.”

On July 24, police were summoned to Waters’ office after a package addressed to “Anne Thrax” was left at the office. Portions of the two-story office were evacuated and police requested a hazardous materials response from the Los Angeles Fire Department, which backed up officers as they led the hazmat entry, fire department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.

The item was determined to be not dangerous, Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations section said.

One person came into contact with the package, but had no medical complaint and no one was taken to a hospital, Stewart said.

Major crimes detectives are investigating the source of the item, Lopez said.

City News Service also contributed to this story.