OAKDALE (CBS13) — An armed militia group was caught on camera patrolling in rural Stanislaus County Saturday.
Witnesses said it was in response to a Black Lives Matter protest over the weekend that never happened. Local police condemned the militia on social media and said they had absolutely no authority.
An employee at a business in Oakdale told CBS13 it was the owner of property off E F street who hired the group for protection in case of protests. The move caused many in the community to be upset and frightened.
“It was frightening and I was flabbergasted and frustrated and angry,” said Malissa Reed, who said she spotted the militia while driving through Oakdale over the weekend.
Members of a “militia” group caught on camera in Oakdale, carrying rifles and wearing military fatigues. Witnesses say they were patrolling in response to a #BlackLivesMatter protest that did not happen over the weekend. Oakdale PD had some harsh words for this group…⬇️ pic.twitter.com/FngnWfB6Qp
— Anna Giles (@AnnaGilesTV) June 9, 2020
Oakdale Police had harsh words, telling the community “the group was not welcome by our police department. Once we learned of their presence we immediately approached the group and advised them that their presence was doing more harm and raising tensions.”
“I felt like there was snipers on the buildings just waiting for something to happen,” said Dezirae Williamson, an employee at Harvey’s Shoe Repair.
Last week a protest in Oakdale started peacefully but took a violent turn. And since then, shops have boarded up their windows, some said out of fear for their property.
“I’ve had my shop for over 21 years and I have to board up my windows. A small business like this, it could affect me very bad,” said Javier Melgoza, the owner of Harvey’s Shoe repair.
Oakdale Police are investigating the militia and considering further action. According to a Facebook post from the department, the militia is allowed to open carry a weapon on private property but they cannot do that on public property.
Officers said this group was seen armed in public areas, but they weren’t made aware until after they left. The Stanislaus County Sheriff said the group has no official standing and no authority.
Meantime, one Oakdale business owner prays for peace.
“I want to hear, I want to understand I want to contribute in whatever way I can,” said Pamela Thomas, who owns a gym in Oakdale.