Video shows Oregon police warning armed counterprotesters before police action

Video shows Oregon police warning armed counterprotesters before police action

The Reopen America movement—made up of a conservative, mostly white, and frequently heavily armed set of protests—was a sad affair. In some cases the protests were dangerous affairs as armed white guys screamed in the faces of law enforcement and threatened to take over government buildings. While obviously small, these anti-government “control” theatrical events always seemed to come up against very restrained and sober law enforcement. This has not been true for the Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice in our country. This double standard seems to be pretty easy to diagnose. There’s a certain homogeneity to it.

A video has gone viral that is purporting to show alleged Proud Boys white supremacist types who are at the very least white, well armed, non-law enforcement types being gently told by actual law enforcement how to stay off to the side and out of the way so as to not end up feeling the physical brunt of our country’s justice.

A live broadcast video on June 1 that was originally posted on Facebook by someone named Joe Smothers has gone viral. The video takes place in Salem, Oregon and follows peaceful protests going on in the name of George Floyd. Later in the video, Smothers heads back to an area of businesses that seem to be patrolled by numerous white folks with guns. Smothers can be heard talking about chatter that antifa has claimed it will be striking affluent white areas. It is at this point of the video that we get to see how white citizens with guns—also known as “conservative activists”—are treated ever so slightly differently than unarmed citizens with more diverse backgrounds. 

A law enforcement officer approaches a crew of assault rifle-snuggled white guys and soothingly explains that he and his team of law enforcement officials will be enforcing the citywide curfew and they want to be able to arrest people—but not these gun-toting white people. “My command wanted me to come talk to you to you guys and request that you guys keep yourselves inside, in your vehicles, somewhere where it’s not a violation so we don’t look like we are playing favorites, because that would be unhealthy.”

This is a different response than other protesters received.

A group of remaining protestors and police collided at the intersection of Winter and Center Street following a peaceful protest at about 11:15 p.m.

— Salem Reporter (@SalemReporter) June 2, 2020

It already “looks like” you’re playing favorites.

The Salem Reporter asked Police Chief Jerry Moore about the seeming bias here between how law enforcement deals with armed white folks protecting shampoo and a more diverse, less armed group of peaceful protesters who are calling for justice. The paper also reports that the almost 80 people who descended on those businesses to protect them from looters could have come from anywhere, and no one knew exactly who they were. There were suspicions by some on social media that some of these men were white supremacists or Proud Boys.

Moore said the officer taped, who he didn’t identify, “had not been fully briefed about enforcement of the curfew before he spoke with the group.” He said the matter had been “discussed with the officer.”

“We are lawfully bound to weigh the severity of the crime against the level of our response,” Moore said. “Lawfully armed individuals violating a curfew does differ in severity from people throwing bricks and bottles.”

While offering up little to no evidence, law enforcement, from the top down, has pretended that there is a need for curfews and military-style control over citizens due to anarchistic elements who are willing to loot and riot. As most people have seen by now, curfews are only used by law enforcement to give those around them a general sense of the timing of when our police and National Guardsmen will begin rioting against their own citizens. 

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