Salem city councilor apologizes for sharing violent, racially charged video on Facebook
Salem City Councilor Daniel Benjamin has apologized for sharing a violent, racially charged video on his personal Facebook page last week.
The video shows several African-American people being run over by vehicles. Benjamin apparently did not shoot the footage himself.
In one scene, ominous music plays as a crowd gathers on a street. Suddenly a car plows into them. The video then launches into a series of collisions between vehicles and groups of people.
The post includes a description from conservative blogger, Ron Dwyer, saying, "As this video shows people are starting to get tired of the Black Lives Matter bullies blocking the roadways."
Nearly 24 hours after a KATU News story aired about the post, Benjamin wrote an apology on his public Facebook page. Here's his statement in full:
I would like to issue an apology regarding a video that I shared on my personal Facebook page. My intention by sharing that video was to bring awareness that people were being killed in the streets of our cities... and I do not condone either side in regards to the violence that has been perpetrated on innocent people. I feel the same as everyone else when I saw the video I was appalled of the brutality being exerted on people across the country. I had not heard of these incidences that were transpiring from the mainstream media. Although I do not agree with the author of that video my intention was to share the video and hopes to bring a solution before it got worse. It is to be understood that that was the only source that I had for video. I had no other choice but to share... I regret not posting that this was simply unacceptable in a free Society. Myself as well as the City of Salem take great care and treating everyone equally.
It is also to be understood that I have a multicultural family. I have a beautiful wife who was born in Korea. My sister married a gentleman from African American descent. My sister-in-law is from El Salvador and her husband is Jewish. I just wanted to bring some perspective to this matter and that I truly apologize for any harm this may have caused.
My intention was to bring awareness to the situation NOT positive reinforcement of the Deeds committed in that video.
Benjamin told a KATU reporter off-camera Monday the post was on his personal Facebook page and although it was public, anyone who doesn't like it can unfriend him.
He also said it has nothing to do with race and, "To infer I'm a racist is actually racist."
Teresa Raiford, an organizer for Don't Shoot Portland, said Benjamin should step down.
"I think it's sickening and it's pretty much disgusting. You're promoting racial intimidation and harassment and possibly murder," Raiford said. "He needs to resign ... Ask him to resign or just go ahead and get done with him."
Salem Mayor Anna M. Peterson said she's horrified by the video.
"It actually made my stomach churn when I could see people actually being mowed down on purpose," Peterson said.
She told KATU she talked with Benjamin Monday afternoon.
"I told him that I was disappointed and shocked at the video and I suggested that he take it down," Peterson said. "We're striving hard to let people in the community know that the city of Salem stands firmly beside the civil rights of every person in this city."