Maxine Waters supporters rally in anticipation of protest that never materializes

- Dozens of supporters of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, gathered outside her district office Thursday to counter an anticipated protest by the far-right militia group known as the Oath Keepers, but as of early afternoon, no members of the organization had shown up.

The Oath Keepers had issued a ``call to action'' to its members, urging them to protest outside Waters' office at 10124 S. Broadway at 1 p.m. The group called the action ``both a protest against Maxine Waters' incitement of terrorism and a stand for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the Border Patrol, as they enforce the perfectly constitutional immigration and naturalization laws of this nation.''

The group criticized Waters' recent comments in which she encouraged her supporters to confront members of the Trump administration if they are seen in public, such as in restaurants or department stores.

Early Thursday afternoon, however, police told reporters at the scene that the Oath Keepers had agreed to cancel its protest amid concerns about possible clashes with Waters supporters.

After learning of the planned protest, Waters issued a statement Wednesday 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.''

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.

In the group's call to protest at Waters' office, its organizers warned participants 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.''

In her statement, Waters said the Oath Keepers ``would like nothing more than to inflame racial tensions and create an explosive conflict in our community.''

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