Officer Caught On Video Warning Armed White Men To Hide Out While Protestors Are Arrested

A viral video shows an unidentified police officer speaking to armed white men in Salem, Oregon. He explains to the men that officers will be arresting anyone walking around, so these guys should enter a business and stay there, or sit discreetly in their cars, “so we don’t look like we’re playing favorites.” Though the officer says, in the video, that his command told him to approach the group, Salem’s police chief says the officer was just “not fully briefed,” and that they do selectively enforce the law, but based on behavior, not identity.

Sheriff says officer shouldn't protect armed hwhite men instead of protestors
[Screenshot via Salem PD/YouTube]

A short clip below, posted to Twitter, shows the most relevant portion of the full video, which is over three hours long. In it, the officer talks to a group of armed white men outside of a Glamour salon. He says, “My command wanted me to come talk to you guys and request that you guys discreetly remain inside the buildings or in your vehicles, somewhere where it’s not a violation, so we don’t look like we’re playing favorites.”

Though the men don’t identify themselves, someone has annotated this short clip with an assertion that they are Proud Boys or members of other white supremacist groups. The longer video provides additional context: while these men are not explicitly identified as any white supremacist group or any particular political ideology, they clearly draw a distinction between themselves and the BLM protestors, placing themselves outside that group.

The video was originally posted to Facebook by a Joe Smothers. Another short clip from it shows the men in front of Glamour discussing what the officer has asked, saying that if they’re allowed to be out, antifa will have justification to say they can also be out.

Notably, while antifa has been widely blamed for disturbances around the protests, including by the president, Washington Post reports that this is predominantly an online myth. There have in fact been documented cases of individuals connected to right-wing and white supremacist groups actually planning riots and property destruction in order to derail protests and silence the collective voice.

The Salem Reporter followed up on the video. It turns out that Glamour has already made headlines — it’s the salon whose owner reopened against state orders under pandemic restrictions. The owner, Lindsey Graham, says that she put out a call on Facebook for help defending her business, which she says has been a target for looters — and that when 85 armed men and women showed up, she was surprised. She says she’s “livid” to learn that her some of her guards may be white supremacists or connected to white supremacist groups, and that she’d rather her business burn than be defended by racists.

Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore released a video statement Wednesday addressing the video. He also does not identify the officer in the video. Despite the officer’s assertion that his command sent him to warn the armed men to be discreet, Moore says the officer simply “wasn’t fully briefed,” and that, while he’s “sorry that there is even a thought that this department would treat some different than others,” policing is based on behavior, and that “each event and person must be evaluated, and our responses are different based on the answers to those questions.”

I know the officer involved. Like me, he has dedicated his life to this department and this community. The impact the interactions captured on the video had on our community has been discussed with the officer. Unfortunately, he had not been fully briefed about enforcement of the curfew before he spoke with the group. Moving forward, all officers tasked with enforcement of the curfew will be properly educated before deployment.

Sheriff Moore also specifically sets aside “lawfully armed individuals violating a curfew” as a different level of offense than people throwing objects “during an otherwise peaceful demonstration.” He does note that the Second Amendment activists are mistaken in any notion that it’s their job, rather than that of law enforcement, to protect the city.

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