As protesters left the rally and vigil on Monday June 1, police were prepared for another night of disturbances. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
The city of Salem on Tuesday evening imposed an extraordinary week-long nighttime curfew across the city. The curfew is in place each night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., ending on Monday, June 8.
The action comes as the city has seen nightly protests for three nights in a row, demonstrations that ended Sunday and Monday night with arrests.
The schedule for the curfew is intended to allow peaceful protests to continue and businesses to operate, according to a statement issued by city officials Tuesday.
“Later in the evening hours, our community has also experienced groups engaging in criminal behavior which place local businesses and community members in danger,” according to the city statement. “To help avoid further violence and destruction of property, the city has put an evening curfew in place. We recognize curfews are a significant step and, in Salem, are only ordered if there is a threat to community safety.”
The curfew was imposed by City Manager Steve Powers, relying on authority from city laws that allow him to declare an emergency when “there is not adequate time to convene the city council to present a request to declare an emergency.”
Under Powers’ order, those in law enforcement, fire and emergency services and government employees as well as media “acting in the performance of the duties” are exempt from the curfew.
The order also doesn’t restrict people who are “traveling directly to and from their place of employment, traveling in the performance of their work, traveling to seek medical care, traveling to avoid a dangerous condition, and unsheltered individuals.”
In its statement, the city said protests would be allowed – until 11 p.m.
“We are taking seriously their right to peaceful assembly and that we will continue to protect that right,” the city statement said. “By extending the order and curfew through June 8, we are also assuring residents and businesses that we are taking their safety seriously. Delaying the curfew to begin at 11 pm, rather than earlier in the evening, lessens the impact on the local business community and their employees and allows peaceful group a full opportunity to demonstrate.”
The order comes as Salem, the state’s second largest city, anticipated a fourth night of protests on Tuesday night. Organizers of Monday’s protest planned another demonstration at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Protesters in Salem and in cities as diverse as Portland, Medford and Hermiston have gathered in anger over the May 25 death of George Floyd. Floyd was killed while being arrested by Minneapolis police. One officer has been charged with his murder.
Salem’s downtown business core sustained some damage after Saturday night’s protests, and the iconic monuments in front of the Capitol were damaged by graffiti.
Monday night’s protest was notable for the relaxed relations between demonstrators and Salem police. Two Salem Police Department lieutenants, Jason Van Meter and Treven Upkes, joined the crowd in front of the Capitol, kneeling in solidarity. Police officers across the country have been taking that step.
On Monday, Salem police blocked traffic to allow protesters to move from the Capitol to the future police headquarters on Northeast Division Street. There, protesters lit and left candles before returning to the Capitol.
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