July 4th is obviously a national holiday in the United States. Historically, Salem, Oregon has had various celebrations and gatherings dedicated to the holiday. This year was significantly different from past years for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the cancellation of some events due to the ongoing pandemic.
Two of the remaining events that were not canceled stood out from the rest that were not canceled. The first was a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Oregon State Capitol on Court Street, scheduled to start at noon PST. It was a permitted event that included speakers, a chalk mural on Court Street, and other festivities.
The second event was organized by known white supremacist Angela Roman, and was called the ‘Rally for Freedom.’ Below is a picture of Ms. Roman, taken from her Facebook page, as well as screenshots from the Facebook event listing (we are listing screenshots rather than a link in case the event is deleted from the Facebook platform):
As you can see from the event’s description, supporters were encouraged to bring firearms to the event. Members of the Proud Boys also posted several images on Facebook leading up to the event encouraging people to attend well before the 2 PM kick-off of Angela Roman’s event (which they did).
Given the history of violence attributed to the Proud Boys, the proximity of their event to the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, and the encouragement on the part of Angela Roman and the Proud Boys for supporters to bring firearms, the situation was clearly a potential public safety hazard.
On the morning of July 4, 2020, Proud Boys were present at the Capitol at least as early as 8 AM, but possibly earlier. Trucks flying the Proud Boys flag were seen driving around the Capitol area, Proud Boys were setting up a temporary tent around that time, and heavily armed Proud Boys were patrolling the area.
At this time, there was no Salem Police Department presence in the area, however, there were several Oregon State Police Troopers on the Capitol property. A civil rights observer approached the group of Troopers and pointed out to them that everyone should want the day to be safe for all in attendance, and that law enforcement working to proactively de-escalate matters would help increase the chances of everyone remaining safe.
The civil rights observer clarified with the group of Troopers what area was their jurisdiction (State Capitol property), what area was Salem PD’s jurisdiction (city sidewalks and streets), how multi-jurisdictional investigations would be handled, and the highlighted the need for the two agencies to work together.
At the June 6, 2020 Black Lives Matter rally, OSP and Salem PD seemed to act confused as to which agency was responsible for handling certain matters that arose when a group of heavily armed white supremacists tried to interrupt the peaceful rally.
The civil rights observer also discussed with the officers the need for them to be mindful of firearms being brought to the area by the Proud Boys. While yes, Oregon is an open-carry state, Salem’s municipal code (SRC 95.095) requires that people have a concealed carry permit in order to walk around with loaded firearms.
Lack of enforcement of that city code towards heavily armed white supremacists has created issues in the past, specifically between May 30 – June 1, and on June 6. Oregon State Patrol (OSP) made it clear that they are not responsible for enforcing that city code, or any city code, and that it is the sole responsibility of Salem PD to enforce city codes.
With that in mind, below is a video that runs from roughly 11:31 AM PST to 1:23 PM PST. The video starts out with Proud Boy agitators trying to troll Black Lives Matter protesters. Keep in mind, the Black Lives Matter protesters had a permit to be where they were located, and the Proud Boys (and their peers) had a permit to be at the World War 2 memorial near Court Street and Cottage Street:
As you can see, the video starts with Proud Boys and their peers coming from the area where they were supposed to be to try to troll the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters. A motorcycle with ‘SS’ on the front drives through the group of BLM protesters despite the road being closed, yet the motorcycle operator faces no enforcement despite creating an obvious safety hazard (again, Salem PD was nowhere to be found in the area, and OSP just stood by and watched). Below is an alert about the road closure via the City of Salem’s Facebook page, clearly showing that the road closure took effect at 11 AM PST:
The situation escalated quickly, yet Salem PD was still nowhere to be found. OSP Troopers approached the Proud Boys and BLM protestors, yet just stood around rather than trying to de-escalate the situation and work to try to get the group of Proud Boys to go back to where they were supposed to be holding their event.
At the 6:28 mark of the video a motorcycle can clearly be seen driving the wrong way on Court Street from the Proud Boys’ location (a blatant traffic violation in addition to creating an obvious safety hazard), to which someone shouts ‘is this road not closed?’ to OSP, with the Troopers still refusing to do anything. That motorcycle is then joined by a group of motorcycles who start driving in circles on Court Street.
The group of BLM protesters then formed a human shield in order to prevent the motorcycles from driving towards the area where the peaceful BLM protest was about to begin. Members of the Proud Boys can be seen mixing into the group, with some standing behind the human shield, including the man below (seen on May 30th near the corner of Ferry Street and Liberty Street, photo courtesy of Brian Hayes of the Statesman Journal):
OSP should have enforced the law on the motorcycle operators, or at the very least formed a human shield to ensure public safety, yet they did not at that time. People have literally died due to racists driving through crowds of protesters, and the fact that there was no enforcement was shameful. Salem PD continued to be nowhere in sight despite chaos unfolding, which was also shameful. FYI – the annoying man in the red jacket is reportedly named Alexander Labliss (reportedly from Woodburn) and he reportedly also goes by Alex Jenkins III.
At the 8:38 mark a group of uniformed Proud Boys walks behind the BLM group, partially surrounding the BLM group, which was a tense situation. OSP did nothing to try to stand between the groups as the Proud Boys approached, and Salem PD was still nowhere to be found. A BLM protester can clearly be heard telling the group to remain peaceful and to not engage with the Proud Boys, which the BLM group complied with.
One person in the Proud Boys group is reportedly an individual named Chester Ross, who can be seen flashing a white power hand signal in a widely-circulated Marty Heyen campaign image below:
Another individual in the group is a man named Robert West, a known rapist. The group reportedly calls him ‘Uncle Bob’ and has defended him being with the group (image of Mr. West is below):
It turns out that ‘Uncle Bob,’ who is often seen with a camera filming alongside the Proud Boys, has his own YouTube channel where he places his video footage. One of those videos is posted below. As you can see, his video shows the Proud Boys creeping up on the BLM protesters from the Proud Boys’ perspective. At the 5:15 mark of rapist Uncle Bob’s video, you can clearly see two officers approach the Proud Boys as they walk across the Capitol lawn, on of the Proud Boys can clearly be heard asking for a “favor,” the officers talk with them briefly (inaudible), then the officers peddle off on their bicycles:
This is very significant because both OSP and Salem PD have long claimed that they work very hard to try to de-escalate matters, and do not show favoritism to white supremacists. However, this footage strongly suggests that claims by BLM protestors of preferential treatment are well-founded. Many in the community have made the claim that local law enforcement agencies are helping coordinate with white supremacists to try to incite violence among protestors, and given that officers are clearly seen chatting with the Proud Boys on their way to surround BLM protestors, and do nothing to stop them or even go alongside them to ensure that public safety is maintained, speaks volumes. It is unclear which agency the officers were from, but clearly it is either OSP or Salem PD.
Finally, at roughly the 10:18 mark of the original video embedded on this page, OSP starts to form a human shield between the groups. Worth noting – the road is Salem PD’s jurisdiction, yet they are still nowhere to be found unless of course, the two bike cops in the Proud Boys video were Salem PD, which if so, is alarming considering that they road off after chatting with the Proud Boys.
Most members of the group of Proud Boys then proceeded to walk back to where they were permitted to be, which would have been a great time to send over a member of OSP to see if the group could remain there in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, however, there’s no evidence that ever happened. If evidence should surface, this page will be updated to reflect it. The Proud Boys would later come back to try to troll the group several times throughout the afternoon.
At around the 15:25 mark of the video a man walks from the Proud Boys end of Court Street wearing camo gear. The man would later be identified as being Christopher Davis by OSP. The man starts acting hostile towards the man on the megaphone, yet OSP does not intervene to try to de-escalate the situation. Salem PD was still nowhere to be found.
At roughly the 16:15 mark Mr. Davis shoves a man that was wearing a ‘Black Bikes Matter’ shirt and was arrested by OSP. Some BLM protestors shouted ‘let him go’ but quickly stopped, presumably because they realized that the man was not part of the group and his actions were not what a vast majority of people present were advocating for.
At roughly the 17:10 mark an Oregon State Police Trooper named Justin T. Henrick (DPSST number 54948) walks up to the man that was pushed and displays a common hand sign for ‘white power’ which is the same hand sign that many of the Proud Boys displayed throughout the day (an interaction that has since gone viral). We know that it is Trooper Henrick because of body cam footage that was later released by OSP, a screenshot of which can be seen below (we are using a screenshot rather than embedding the video in case the video is later deleted from YouTube):
OSP has taken heat because of the interaction, and rightfully so. OSP’s official position, via a press release, was that the officer was just checking to make sure that the man was okay. To be fair, the hand signal has various meanings, including ‘OK’ or ‘butthole’ or a loose version of the ASL letter ‘F’ or a number of other things. However, it can also mean ‘white power.’ Below is an image of the Proud Boys flashing the same hand sign throughout yesterday, along with Trooper Henrick displaying the same signal:
There were a number of ways that the officer could have checked on the man in a manner that did not involve a hand signal associated with white supremacy. Perhaps if area law enforcement did not have a history of showing preferential treatment to white supremacists, the officer would have been given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps if Salem PD would have been in the area carrying out their governmental function in their own jurisdiction rather than leaving OSP to do it, the situation could have been avoided entirely.
However, the general consensus among People of Color and non-racist Caucasians seem to be that the officer was signaling to the man via a term often referred to as crypto-fascism. People can feel free to form their own opinion. Regardless, this marks the third time in recent weeks that Salem has made national/international news because of a racist incident (the first being a viral video from June 1, and the second stemming from a Salem-Keizer School Board meeting).
It is not until roughly the 36:30 mark of the video that Salem PD finally makes an appearance, which would have been roughly 12:07 PM PST, long after issues started to arise on Court Street and the public city sidewalks along Court Street.
Several Proud Boys were seen drinking alcohol on the sidewalks and in the road (possibly in violation of SRC 90.020) while carrying assault rifles and other firearms, yet Salem PD continued to fail to even ask them if they had permits to be able to carry firearms on city property, as required by SRC 95.095.
To be fair, it is possible that the firearms were not loaded, and it is possible that the alcohol-consuming Proud Boys had permits to be able to carry loaded firearms on city property, however, since there was no enforcement of SRC 95.095, we will never know.
This is a pattern of selective enforcement that has clearly emboldened white supremacists, which is presumably why more and more of them are coming to Salem lately. Below are some of the talking points offered up by Salem PD when asked by a civil rights observer why they were not enforcing the city gun law, along with why the talking points were invalid:
- Oregon is an open-carry state – again, yes, Oregon is an open carry state, however, SRC 95.095 still applies and permits are required.
- The Proud Boys were on state property – at times the Proud Boys and their gun-toting peers were on state property, however, many other times they were not, and even when they were on state property, they did not arrive there by helicopter and presumably had to walk on city property to get there, as well as city property to get back to their vehicles, yet faced no enforcement.
- Salem PD was trying to de-escalate the situation without enforcing SRC 95.095 – you cannot try to effectively de-escalate a clearly tense situation in good faith when white supremacists are allowed to carry assault rifles while trolling peaceful BLM protesters.
- There was no independent information suggesting that the guns were loaded – if this was the standard, very few city codes would ever be enforced. The fact that the group was walking around with firearms and are known for inciting violence is clearly enough information to warrant enforcing SRC 95.095.
Those talking points, along with others, are clearly a poor excuse for Salem PD to continue to fail to do its job. There’s obviously a documented history of Salem PD showing favoritism to known white supremacists, including some of those present in the area on July 4th, and Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore has claimed after-the-fact that the group was known for causing problems, yet there was still no enforcement. Why? Why does the pattern of selective enforcement continue?
Why are known white supremacists with a history of inciting violence allowed to walk around with assault rifles while consuming alcohol on city property? Salem PD’s website claims that the Department seeks to ‘enhance trust’ and ‘protect the community.’ How is that possible given what is going on right now and in recent weeks?
To further hammer home the claim that local law enforcement is selectively enforcing laws, consider the fact that two BLM protestors were assaulted by Proud Boys on July 4th, as seen in the videos below:
Remember, a Proud Boy was pushed and the person that pushed him was arrested, and OSP Trooper Henrick flashed the ‘OK’ sign at him. However, when the Proud Boys were committing assault, not only did the victims of the assault *not* get an ‘OK’ sign from OSP or Salem PD, they Proud Boys faced no enforcement at all, as proven by the video footage below, which was recorded by Proud Boys rapist Uncle Bob:
As you can see, OSP and Salem PD are nowhere to be found in the video despite the multiple Proud Boys assaults occurring. If there is a record or footage of the Proud Boys being arrested for their assault, or OSP or Salem PD flashing the ‘OK’ sign at the victims, this page will be updated to reflect it.
All Salem PD officers, as well as Salem-based OSP Troopers, are required to sign the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training’s ‘Criminal Justice Code of Ethics.’ Below is the language from the Code of Ethics:
AS A CRIMINAL JUSTICE OFFICER, my fundamental duty is to serve humankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect all persons against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice.
I WILL keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity, will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I WILL never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. Without compromise and with relentlessness, I will uphold the laws affecting the duties of my profession courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence, and never accepting gratuities.
I RECOGNIZE my position as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it, as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of The Criminal Justice System. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession.
If you feel that Salem PD officers (or any officers in Oregon) are violating that Code of Ethics, or any other DPSST provision for that matter, feel free to contact DPSST at: https://www.oregon.gov/dpsst/CJ/Pages/Complaints.aspx
The Oregon Attorney General’s official position appears to be that her office cannot ‘police the police’ when it comes to Salem PD. That is unacceptable, and there needs to be a third party investigation. A petition was started on June 13, 2020 calling on Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to launch a third-party investigation in the City of Salem (linked below, over 1,652 signatures as of the publishing of this page). Please sign and share it: