Today the Proud Boys, a violent right-wing militia group, provided "security" for a gun rights rally at Riverfront Park here in Salem.
The City of Salem allowed the rally to go on without a permit, as I reported a few days ago. So members of the public had just as much of a right to be at the park as the Proud Boys and other people attending the rally.
But as you'll see below, the Proud Boys forced people to leave the park if they objected to someone being there.
Meanwhile, apparently there was nobody from the Salem Police Department or the City of Salem on site to ensure that the rights of everybody were maintained. Instead, the Proud Boys were free to bully Salem residents.
This photo is a screenshot from a video by "Behind Enemy Lines," a guy who, I gather, used to be close to the Proud Boys. No more, since his video shows him being escorted from the public park by a group of Proud Boys who ordered him to leave for reasons that aren't entirely clear.
The same thing happened to other people. Here's a post on a private Facebook group that I belong to by someone I know and consider highly credible.
The man who wrote that post is quite old, late 70s or early 80s, I believe. I can completely understand why he left the area when four armed Proud Boys demanded that he do so. But he was sitting in a public park watching a rally put on by people who, again, had no more of a right to use the park than he did.
It's disgusting that the Salem Police Department and City officials allowed the Proud Boys to intimidate citizens with zero police officers or parks staff at the rally to make sure rules were followed.
Like, not kicking people out of the auditorium/stage area just because the rally organizers or Proud Boys didn't like their looks.
Here's another post from one of my Facebook friends. SPD stands for Salem Police Department. MCSO stands for Marion County Sheriff's Office.
So the proud boys came to Salem to intimidate the folks enjoying our beautiful Riverfront Park. The SPD nor MCSO offered any security services. Citizens enjoying the park, or were looking to see what was going on were escorted from a city park by the Proud Boys.
And here's some Twitter tweets about the rally. The first one is from a journalist. UPDATE: Tim Gruver, the journalist, wrote a story for The Center Square, "Far-right groups hold gun rally in Oregon park, threaten media." Here's how the story starts out:
A weekend gathering billed as a Second Amendment rally in Salem led to far-right groups tied to the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion taking control of a public park.
The Saturday event, promoted online as "May Day 2A Rally," saw 100 to 200 attendees at Salem's Riverfront Park in a show of support for their Second Amendment rights. The Proud Boys, a "western chauvinist" group who have violently clashed with members of the anti-fascist movement, provided "security" and co-sponsored the event.
Some carried semi-automatic pistols or rifles and "closed" the public park to media, though they had no authority to do so. The armed attendees threatened reporters, forcing them to leave the immediate area and report from a distance.
UPDATE: This Reddit post just came to my attention.
Just got attacked by a group of the proud boys in the river front.
I was walking past the fisherman statue towards the carousel with one of the kids I support when we saw a group of them walking by, so we cut through the grass towards the front of the carousel. I snapped a picture to post to snapchat and they started following me, yelling "give me that phone fucker." They started getting closer so we started hurrying to the gates. I had to stop when I got separated from the kid I support. They started shoving me telling me that I needed to go. One grabbed a hold of me so I tried to stabilize myself and one of them held me while a couple others started swinging at me. It felt like four or five were there but it was more likely only two or three of them involved in the scuffle. They smacked me in the head a couple times and got my ribs and back before throwing me on the ground. They wouldn't let me go back to the kid I support while she was still in the park so I had to walk along the train tracks and she had to follow me on the opposite side of the fence. She was being followed by somebody wearing a ballistic vest and holding a pistol at their side. We ended up back together at the parking lot by the gilbert house and they stopped following her.
Please be safe you guys
(after someone asked if they called the police, this comment was added by the person attacked)
I did. Police came by the house I'm working at and asked me questions. Dude spent the entire time basically trying to ask whether or not I was agitating them. Officer said "It's not normal for them to do that unprovoked, but you're not the first person they've thrown out today." almost verbatim. I don't expect anything to come of it