A Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputy has been placed on administrative leave after he was seen in a viral video making what the sheriff’s office is calling “inappropriate statements” while on duty, the agency announced Saturday.
The deputy’s remarks appeared to give legitimacy to the conspiracy theory that Antifa members were intentionally setting fires, an unfounded rumor that has been strenuously debunked by law enforcement, The Oregonian reports.
“As soon as I was made aware of this incident, I moved swiftly to place this deputy on leave while we investigate,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said. “The Sheriff’s Office mission is to provide calm and safety especially during unprecedented times such as these. I expect nothing less of our deputies, and apologize to all in our community.”
The video, in which deputy Mark Nikolai is aware he was being filmed, has a timestamp indicating it was filmed Thursday afternoon.
“Antifa motherf*ckers are out here causing hell,” the deputy says. “There’s a lot of lives at stake and there’s a lot of people’s property at stake because these guys got some vendetta.”
The deputy is heard on the video telling the person filming that deputies “need the public’s help,” with regards to Antifa.
“There are people that are not going to leave their homes,” the other deputy said. “And if that happens, if they start lighting more fires, people are going to die.”
The Oregonian reports that they have heard of numerous reports and photos of people being stopped by armed vigilantes in Clackamas County have been circulating on social media.
“The agency has declined multiple requests for comment on another viral video, showing what appears to be the same Clackamas County deputy coaching militia members,” the newspaper noted.
The department has been using its official Twitter account to try and debunk the dangerous conspiracy theory.
— Clackamas Sheriff (@ClackCoSheriff) September 11, 2020
— Clackamas Sheriff (@ClackCoSheriff) September 12, 2020