Officials Respond To Video Showing Oregon Police Officer Advising Armed White Men How To Avoid Arrest
Oregon police have apologised after footage emerged showing an officer advising armed white men to stay inside to avoid arrest during a Black Lives Matter protest.
The video went viral after being shared online by Salem resident Joe Smothers, who has been documenting the ongoing demonstrations protesting George Floyd’s death.
Members of the public gathered in Salem on Monday, June 1, to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement, but in an effort to keep demonstrations in check, officials issued a citywide curfew, which came into place at 11pm.
Shortly before the curfew began, Smothers filmed an unidentified officer speaking to a group of people outside a business called Glamour Salon. According to Insider, Smothers said the men were friends and relatives of local business owners who had armed themselves with rifles, pistols and shotguns in an attempt to prevent looting.
In the clip, the officer could be heard telling the group that his command had instructed him to request the group ‘discreetly remain inside the buildings’ or in their own vehicles so they wouldn’t be in violation of the curfew when it came into place and police could start arresting ‘anybody walking around’.
See the video here:
The officer added that he wanted the group to stay inside so police didn’t look like they were ‘playing favourites’. The tweet sharing footage of the incident claimed the officer’s warning came ahead of the use of tear gas, though Salem police have said no gas was used that night.
The officer in the clip was widely criticised as he instructed white people on how to avoid arrest, while those left protesting would be taken in by police.
After the clip went viral, Salem’s chief of police Jerry Moore issued an apology in which he said he was ‘sorry there is even a thought that this department would treat some different than others’.
Police Chief Jerry Moore recorded a message earlier this evening to address concerns by the #SalemOR community regarding events over the last few days. Transcript of his video can be found in the media release at http://www.flashalert.net/id/salempolicedeptClosed-captioning available in English and Spanish.->-<-El Jefe de de Policía grabó un mensaje esta noche para abordar las preocupaciones de la comunidad #SalemOR con respecto a los acontecimientos de los últimos días. Subtítulos disponibles en inglés y español.Si gusta una transcripción de el video, por favor envíe un correo electrónico a [email protected] of Salem
Posted by Salem Police Department on Wednesday, June 3, 2020
This community is hurting, like many others in our nation, and our job is to make you feel safe and secure.
We are living in unprecedented times… [This is] the first time the city of Salem has instituted a curfew, the first time Salem police officers have deployed gas…
A streaming video many of you have seen has resulted in phone calls and emails decrying the words which were spoken by one of our officers.
The message we have received is a concern that we are treating people differently. For that I tell you, I am sorry.
Moore went on to say that the officer involved in the video has ‘dedicated his life to this department and this community’, and claimed he had ‘not been fully briefed about the enforcement of the curfew before he spoke with the group’.
The police chief promised that moving forward all officers tasked with enforcing curfews will be ‘properly educated before deployment’.
He didn’t directly comment on why the officer appeared to inform only one group of people, rather than offering his advice to all protesters, though he stressed police responses to people would vary depending on the circumstances of the situation, but ‘without favouritism or bias’.
While context around the clip of the officer remains uncertain, it appears to highlight the continuation of systemic racism in ensuring the arrest of protesters while allowing others to walk free. This is exactly the kind of action that must be stopped.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
Most Read StoriesMost Read
CreditsSalem Police Department/Facebook and 2 others
Salem Police Department/Facebook