Police officials in Salem, Oregon have issued an apology after one of its officers was filmed telling armed white men how to avoid arrest during the curfew crackdown.
Insider reports the now-viral video was filmed and posted by Joe Smothers, a Salem resident who has documented the ongoing protests over the police killing of George Floyd. The clip in question shows an unidentified officer speaking to a group of purported counter-protestors outside Glamour Salon, which made headlines last month after its owner Lindsey Graham defied the state's COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
"We're going to really enforce the citywide curfew shut down so we can arrest anybody walking around," the officer tells the men in the video. "My commander wanted me to come talk to you guys and request that you guys discreetly keep people inside the businesses or in your vehicles somewhere where it's not a violation ... so we don't look like we're playing favorites."
The clip was later shared on Twitter along with a caption that claimed the armed civilians were members of the far-right organization Proud Boys; however, Smothers stated on Facebook that the men were not affiliated with the group.
Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore addressed the incident in a Facebook video on Wednesday, reportedly two days after it occurred.
"The message we have received is a concern that we are treating people differently. For that I tell you, I am sorry," Moore said. "Sorry that there is even a thought that this department would treat some different than others. 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 the 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."
Smothers said the armed men were friends and relatives of business owners who were trying to prevent looting; but, as Insider points out, there have been no reports of looting during the Salem protests as of Friday afternoon.