The Oregon officer who flashed ‘a white current sign during a Black Lives Matter demonstration’ is being cleared
An Oregon police officer was cleared of any wrongdoing after a video appeared to flash with a “white power” sign during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 4.
The Oregon State Department of Police has announced that it will investigate the disturbing allegations after images have been shared with social media.
Video shows at least six Oregon officers between Black Lives Matter supporters and a group of counter-protesters during a peaceful Saturday demonstration in Salem.
The accused officer appears to run to a counter-protester before making an ‘OK’ sign – he joins his left thumb and index finger and stretches his remaining three fingers.
A counter-protester then gives the officer a nice blow on the back.
The gesture has recently been linked to the White Power movement, but Oregon police chiefs now insist that the officer check whether the man is okay after apparently being knocked over in a scuffle.
The demonstrator has been accused of being a Proud Boys member on social media, but this has not been confirmed.
The video caption read, “Tell me again how deceitful the police are when nobody even keeps an eye on an Oregon police officer who flashes a white current sign at a proud boy he’s clearly dealing with . “
The hand symbol, which was once harmless and typically means ‘OK’, was initially associated with ‘white power’ as an online joke, but has since been adopted by racist figures.
“By 2019, at least some white supremacists seem to have given up the ironic or satirical intent behind the original trolling campaign and use the symbol as a heartfelt expression of white supremacy,” said The Anti-Defamation League.
An officer in the Oregon Department of Police was charged with making a white-force hand gesture during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Salem, Oregon.
Social media identified the counter-protester as a Proud Boys member, but this has not been confirmed
However, the ambiguous nature of the gesture is part of the appeal to extremists.
Joe Smothers, the 20-year-old man who captured the moment on film, said NBC News that some of the counter-demonstrators may have joined the hate group, Proud Boys.
“Proud boys and the armed militia planned to disrupt the protest and made an arms call last week,” said Smothers.
He added that Proud Boys members had flashed through the white, powerful hand gesture all day.
Authorities said the incident had arisen after a counter-protester was pushed to the ground by another man during the demonstration
Protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States have led to the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain, who were killed by law enforcement officers.
As a result, the law enforcement agency has entered into a crisis as Americans re-examine the role that police officers have and should play in overseeing communities.
Images of the alleged white power incident reached over 2.5 million views, prompting officials to begin a brief investigation into the matter.
The department, which reports The Oregonian in 93 percent white, later claimed the ‘white power’ hand sign was a misunderstanding.
Authorities have released camera images of officer bodies in an attempt to disprove speculation.
They said the officer flashed the signature to make sure the counter-protester was okay after the fall
“The OSP trooper identified in the video showed no implicit or explicit white supremacy behavior,” the department wrote.
They said the incident started when two men got into a scuffle during the demonstration and a counter-protester was knocked to the ground.
The officer reportedly checked that the attacked man was fine and blinked the hand sign.
“An OSP trooper approached the man and asked if he was unharmed, while at the same time showing the hand signal usually associated with ‘okay,'” the department wrote.
The best available evidence indicates that the military police simply checked the status of the man and used the universal signal to indicate this investigation, that the man gestured that he was – and then patted this military police and a second military police on their shoulders as a token of appreciation. ”
How the ‘OK’ sign was associated with white supremacy
The historic OK hand sign – touching the index finger with the thumb with the other three fingers up – is a previously harmless symbol recently co-opted by the far right.
Racists’ co-option of the symbol started as a joke on the far-right messaging site 4Chan – where users made an innocent gesture and pretended there was some hidden meaning behind it, hoping to trick left-leaning people into anger.
But the joke escalated, and soon the symbol was widely used by far-right extremists, leading some to conclude that it has changed its meaning.
The ‘OK’ hand gesture (left) is now sometimes associated with white supremacy, despite its usually innocent meaning. Brenton Tarrant, Australian man arrested earlier this year for killing 51 people in New Zealand mosques, makes gesture in court in March
Conservative Viner Pizza Party Ben and former alt-right pin-up boy Milo Yiannopoulos started making the gesture at several campaign events for Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election.
White supremacist Richard Spencer also flashed the sign on election night in 2016 for a Trump Hotel with the caption ‘Tonight is the night’.
The symbol is still used, including allegedly by White House intern Jack Breuer in 2017, photographed making the OK sign in his class photo, claiming he was copying the president’s gesture to put his index finger and thumb while speaking.
The popular emoji has been registered as a hate symbol by the US-based Anti-Defamation League, but the group warned that it is still used ‘overwhelmingly’ to show approval or that someone is okay.
Others use it as part of a ‘circle game’ made on the American TV show Malcolm in the Middle, where someone makes the gesture and holds it below their waist. When someone else looks at it, they get a slap in the arm.
The camera body footage shows a counter-protester being pushed and falling to the ground.
Authorities said 50-year-old Christopher Davis from Salem was arrested for disorderly conduct and harassment after the incident.
This is not the first time in recent weeks that a police officer has been accused of flashing the white power sign.
An investigation was launched in June after a New York City police officer was caught on camera and affixed the ‘OK’ sign.
In 2019, officials at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis opened an investigation after several cadets and midshipmen were seen flashing the board during the Army-Navy soccer game.
Pictured: Black Lives Matter supporters demonstrate in Portland, Oregon on July 4
Rita Castillo waves to Black Lives Matter protesters as they pass her home in Springfield, Oregon on Friday, June 27
Law enforcement has been intensively investigated in recent months. In several departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York Police Department, the budget was cut by city officials.
Minneapolis police were waived after city council members voted in an overwhelming 12-0 victory.
Attention to law enforcement, especially police brutality and excessive violence, has become a controversial debate among Americans.