Oregon Police Deny Officer Flashed White Power Hand Symbol at BLM Protest

Oregon State Police have been forced to deny that one of their officers flashed a white power hand gesture before being shown a "signal of appreciation" by a counter-protester at a Black Lives Matter demonstration.

The department has denied the claims in response to a viral video of an incident in Salem on July 4.

In the clip, one officer can be seen approaching a man wearing a "black bikes matter" T-shirt and giving an "OK" hand gesture to him. The man in the black T-shirt spots the trooper and pats him on the shoulder.

"Tell me again how defund the police is wrong when no one even bats an eye at a policeman in Oregon flashing a white power sign at a Proud Boy that he's obviously chummy with," Twitter user Lisa Hendricks said while tweeting the clip, which has been viewed more than 3.4 million times online.

The seemingly innocuous "OK" hand gesture has ties the far-right as the fingers spell out WP [white power], with people using it to express hidden support for white supremacy.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) included the "OK" hand gesture in its database of hate symbols following a number of high-profile examples of people using it.

Controversial message board site 4chan originally started claims that the OK symbol was a coded message to show support white supremacy as a hoax, but it has since been co-opted by those actually expressing far-right views.

In a statement, the Oregon State Police released bodycam footage showing the moments prior to what was seen in the viral Twitter video.

The clip shows the man in the "black bikes matter" t-shirt being shoved to the ground during the demonstration. Officers are then seen detaining male suspect Christopher Davis, 50.

A short time later, an Oregon State Police officer approaches the man who was pushed to the ground to ask if he was injured while simultaneously displaying the hand signal commonly associated with "okay."

Oregon State Police said the "best available evidence" indicates the trooper was simply checking on the man's status and used the universal hand signal to signify this inquiry.

Police said after the man assured he was unharmed, he "patted this trooper and a second trooper on their shoulders in an apparent signal of appreciation."

A second Oregon State Police trooper also advised the man that they would be taking his personal information for a criminal investigation, which they later did.

"OSP condemns all racist behaviors and does not allow white supremacist behaviors by our officers and staff," the department said in a statement.

"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 awaits 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."

Davis was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and harassment transported to the Marion County Jail after alleging shoving the man in the black T-shirt.

Oregon
(File photo) Oregon state troopers were on hand to assist in monitoring alt-right groups during the End Domestic Terrorism rally on August 17, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Oregon State Police denied accusations one of their officers used the “OK” hand gesture linked white nationalism at a BLM protest. Karen Ducey/Getty
Oregon Police Deny Officer Flashed White Power Hand Symbol at BLM Protest | U.S.