The Oregon State Police is aware of a concern an OSP Trooper made a hand signal that some could interpret as racist or sympathizing with racist ideology. The OSP condemns all racist behavior and ideology, so we of course were alarmed and concerned by the reports- which accompanied a small video snippet of a larger event. The OSP Trooper identified in the video did not engage in any white supremacy behavior, implicitly or explicitly.
The agency commissioned an immediate review of the event, which occurred during a protest at Oregon’s Capitol on Saturday July 4th- as OSP troopers were policing an event that attracted counter- protestors.
The body camera of the involved trooper was reviewed- in addition to the body cameras of troopers in the general vicinity. Information indicates the trooper had just witnessed two protestors engaged in a physical altercation and one man was knocked to the ground. Troopers arrested Christopher Davis (50) of Salem on charges of Disorderly Conduct and Harassment and he was transported the Marion County Jail. The man that was knocked to the ground recovered his footing and interacted with troopers in the vicinity (the portion of the video that is being displayed by the media and social media). An OSP trooper approached the man and asked if he was unharmed- while simultaneously displaying the hand signal commonly associated with “okay.” The trooper was wearing a face covering and operating in a noisy environment. Another trooper advised the man they would be taking his information, which they did for a criminal investigation.
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 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. Additionally, some members of the public are misidentifying the trooper in the video with another trooper who was working the event.