OSP: Trooper did not engage in 'white supremacy behavior' with hand gesture

Oregon State Police has responded to an incident at a protest in Salem where a trooper's hand gesture has come into question. A video of the exchange has gone viral.

Posted: Jul 5, 2020 7:28 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2020 10:49 AM

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon State Police has responded to an incident at a protest in Salem Saturday where a trooper's hand gesture has come into question.

FULL VIDEO: OSP addressing false accusation

A video clip of the exchange has been shared widely on social media. 

Troopers are seen standing between Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-protesters. A man wanders over to the counter-protester’s side and starts yelling at them. A man in a black shirt that reads "Black Bikes Matter" confronts the man and the two appear to exchange words before the man in the black shirt is pushed to the ground.

That’s when you see state police step in to restrain the man. He is arrested and taken away.

The police reassemble a line between the two opposing protests when an officer approaches the man in the black shirt and flashes the “OK” hand gesture at him. In body camera video released by OSP, you can hear the trooper ask, “You’re good?” The man in the black shirt then pats the trooper on the shoulder.

The “OK” gesture has come into question because according to the Anti Defamation League the gesture is used among extremist circles to signal “white power.”

On Sunday, OSP said they had reviewed the event via body camera footage from the officers in the area and believe the officer did not engage in “any white supremacist behavior, implicitly or explicitly.”

Officials say the best available evidence indicates the trooper was checking to see if the man was OK and used “the universal signal to signify this inquiry, which the man gestured he was.”

In a statement, Oregon State Police said, “OSP condemns all racist behaviors and does not allow white supremacist behaviors by our 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.”

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