A message for the Salem community UPDATED MAY 5, 2021

UPDATE May 5, 2021:

Several accounts of the police department response to the rally at Riverfront Park on Saturday, May 1, 2021 are circulating on social media. Primary claims seem to be concerning the lack of police presence and allowing individuals to be assaulted or removed from the park by members of the Proud Boys group. We understand the concerns of those who read the social media commentary, and we share similar concerns.

Due to Oregon COVID-19 restrictions, the City of Salem is not issuing event permits and no permit was requested for this specific event. The City of Salem did not provide convenience or support services or approve/authorize any private security force for the event. Parks, however, remain open for public use on a first-come first-served basis, and as such, the City of Salem cannot stop constitutionally protected activities, nor can the Salem Police Department.

The rally was attended by approximately 150 to 200 people, including families with children. A stage was set for guest speakers and several tents were set up for the sharing of food and items. Approximately 30 individuals were dressed in Proud Boy attire, with some of those lawfully carrying pistols. No rifles were seen carried in the public space. No groups arrived in counter-protest at the event which is important to note because preventing opposing groups from confronting one another is a decision point for more substantial and visible law enforcement deployment.

Additional Salem Police officers were on-hand for the event and prepared to immediately respond, if necessary. Officers were monitoring the event throughout, some more visible and some less visible. Officers monitoring the event did not observe any obvious criminal violations and were focused upon ensuring the stated priorities for crowd management events.

We received only a few calls for service related to this rally. Officers were either present or immediately responded to each call to investigate. There were two false reports called in, one advising of intoxicated individuals terrorizing people near the carousel and the other indicating a group of Proud Boys members with clubs, chains, and knives attacking people in the middle of the park.

We have also learned through social media commentary after-the-fact that two or three individuals may have been escorted out of the park by Proud Boys or their affiliates. Salem Police is currently following up with anyone who was possibly threatened or a victim of a crime during this rally. We highly encourage anyone who experienced such actions to please contact the police department (503-588-6123, option 1) to file a police report. We will investigate all reports as we take these incidents seriously.

For additional information about protests, rallies and assemblies in the city of Salem or for police response to such activities, visit https://bit.ly/protests-faqs.

Original message published April 29, 2021:


The Salem Police Department is aware of a rally which is being advertised for Saturday, May 1, 2021, at 12:00 p.m. in Riverfront Park.

Our approach to protests and rallies has remained consistent. Regardless of anyone’s political affiliation or ideology, we make enforcement decisions based upon the neutral interests of public safety. Our priorities are to:

  • Prevent or intervene in acts of violence and property damage.
  • Keep opposing groups from converging to minimize risk of violence and best ensure community safety.
  • Take proper enforcement action to address minor offenses when reasonable and appropriate.
  • Ensure follow-up investigation to criminal behavior that was not immediately addressed.

The Salem Police Department is prepared to address circumstances should a law enforcement response be necessary. We are also in communication with our partner agencies should additional resources be needed.

Thank you.

Salem Police Department media accounts: Facebook | Twitter | Nextdoor | FlashAlert Newswire

Salem Police websiteCommonly Asked Questions About Protests in Salem

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Salem Police Department