SALEM, OR (KPTV) – During a protest in Salem on Saturday, someone recorded a video saying it appeared an Oregon State Police trooper gave a “white power” symbol to someone.
In the video, the officer puts his thumb and index finger together while leaving the other three fingers up. That symbol has been used by white supremacist groups.
Oregon State Police responded to that video Sunday, releasing a statement and body camera footage.
OSP says troopers were policing an event that had attracted counter-protesters. They say troopers saw two protesters get into a fight and one man was knocked to the ground.
They say the trooper approached the man and asked if he was unharmed, while making the hand signal commonly associated with “OK”.
OSP says the trooper was wearing a face covering and it was extremely loud, so it was hard to hear.
“Best available evidence indicates the trooper was simply checking on the man’s status and used the universal signal to signify this inquiry, which the man gestured he was – then patted this trooper and a second trooper on their shoulders in an apparent signal of appreciation. The man was the victim of a crime,” OSP said in a news release.
The other protester involved in the fight, 50-year-old Christopher Davis of Salem, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and harassment. He was transported to the Marion County Jail.
State police say they condemn all racist behaviors and do not allow white supremacist behaviors by their officers and staff.
“We appreciate that the public would be concerned and rightfully outraged if an OSP trooper were to flash an offensive gesture. We would share in that outrage and concern. In this instance, we would ask the public await the complete information before condemning a trooper with an irreparable and harmful label. Additionally, some members of the public are misidentifying the trooper in the video with another trooper who was working the event,” OSP said.
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