SPD: Officers weren’t ordered to protect ‘Fame’

Published 1:35 pm Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Salisbury Police Department says there was no order given to protect “Fame” during protests.

With images and videos circulating of officers in riot gear in front of the downtown Confederate monument, the department posted a message on the city’s rumor control website Thursday saying it wanted to “set the record straight” about protests Monday night and early Tuesday. Before the situation escalated, protesters had climbed on the base of “Fame,” held signs and chanted. Later, police used tear gas and riot gear to disperse participants.

After some participants of the protest chased two men away from the steps of St. John’s Lutheran Church, police officers deployed tear gas near the intersection of Council and Church streets before marching in a line that pushed protesters to the intersection of Innes and Church streets — where “Fame” stands. Officers then formed a line on Innes Street in front of the “Fame” statue and after midnight gave an order to disperse or face arrest.

The police department’s statement started by saying people should be angry about racial injustices that take place in the country; police are angry, too.

“We’re working on ourselves daily to ensure that we always do the right thing. We value lives. Black Lives Matter,” the police department said in its statement.”

Josh Bergeron / Salisbury Post- Police in riot gear stand in front of the Confederate statue “Fame” Monday during a protest that drew a large crowd and prompted police to use tear gas.

The department continued, saying that the lie that it was protecting “Fame” is hurtful “to our Salisbury Police officers who protect this community every day, some of whom you know personally.”

“Considering the location of where our officers were attacked with rocks on Monday, June 1, on North Church Street, and how the line was formed following that incident, we understand how it looks,” the department said. “We did not interfere with protestors at and on Fame on early Monday evening. And once the situation soured one block away, we employed gear to protect our officers. The line happened to move in front of the statue until the crowd dispersed. There was no ‘order given to protect Fame.'”