Following on the heels of the Daniel Benjamin scandal, which ended with his resignation as a city councilor after he shared a Facebook post about Black Lives Matter protesters being run down by cars, now Salem is getting more bad social media attention.
This time a Salem police officer and a Marion County Sheriff's deputy are in the news.
A Chicago woman has accused them of "trolling" her after she left a comment -- I am going -- on a Facebook link about a Women's March on Washington the day after Donald Trump's inauguration.
Here's a KGW video about the brouhaha. Click here for the online story.
KATU broke this story a few days earlier. See "'Unwanted, unprovoked, and disturbing': Woman says she's cyberbullied by local officers."
SALEM, Ore. — A Chicago woman told KATU she was cyberbullied on Facebook by a police officer and a deputy from Salem. A Salem Police Department spokesman said the officer was off duty and his comments were protected free speech.
But the woman, Liz McArthur, said the officer and Marion County deputy refused to stop harassing her even after she asked them several times to leave.
She said she doesn't know them.
Both men have since deleted their comments.
They didn't represent themselves as officers. McArthur's friends found that out by Googling their names.
"I definitely felt like I was being targeted or something," McArthur explained.
The Portland Oregonian also ran a story yesterday: "2 Oregon officers led online 'mob' against woman for supporting Donald Trump protest, she says." And today, rather belatedly, the Salem Statesman Journal got in the journalistic act with "Salem officer, Marion County deputy accused of 'trolling' woman online."
McArthur sent a complaint to Salem Police Department, Marion County Sheriff's Office, the City Attorney's Office and shared it on her Facebook page. She said the comments were unwanted, unprovoked and disturbing.
Galusha was cleared of wrongdoing following a complaint.
"We reviewed it, we investigated it, and determined it was free speech on his part," said Lt. Steve Birr, spokesman for Salem Police Department.
Salem Police's internal affairs division investigated the complaint along with the City Attorney's Office, but determined the comments fell under the first amendment right to free speech, Birr said.
"Officers are expected to not bring discredit to the police department, but in this situation, he did not bring discredit," Birr said.
Well, I've got mixed feelings about the Salem Police Department's attitude toward Officer Galusha's actions.
Yes, he did indeed get into it with McArthur on his own time, and he didn't represent himself as a police officer. And the "trolling" of McArthur, though disturbing, doesn't strike me as out of the ordinary given the current nasty tone of political discourse on social media.
But given the raw nerves after Trump's presidential win, which was aided by the FBI Director's unnecessary and unprecedented involvement in the campaign shortly before the election, one would hope that law enforcement personnel would realize that adding fuel to post-November 8 fires isn't a wise thing to do.
There's too much of a parallel between what Daniel Benjamin did on Facebook, which ended with his resignation as a city councilor, and the social media actions of these police officers.
In both cases the men posted on Facebook on their own time, and not in their capacity as "public servants." In both cases the men considered they didn't do anything wrong, even though other people disagreed. In both cases the men deleted their postings after they were publicized.
I've been an active blogger since 2003. I've written thousands of posts, many of them controversial. I've engaged in lots of "comment conversations" with people who vehemently disagree about something I've said.
And I'm pretty sure that I've never deleted something I've written because people were upset with it. That's because I've never felt like I've crossed an ethical or moral line in my writing that I should have stayed on the other side of.
So when I heard that Daniel Benjamin and Officer Galusha had deleted Facebook posts, made their Facebook listing private, and deleted their entire Facebook account (Galusha did this), this raises red flags for me. If someone truly believes they didn't do anything wrong on social media, why try to cover up the tracks of something you aren't ashamed of?