Report Shows Portland Police Officer Had Posted In Extremist Facebook Groups Promoting Islamophobia and Anti-Government Paramilitary Organizations

Before he was hired by the Portland Police Bureau, Eric Salmestrelli shared Islamophobic comments and an image promoting the Three Percenters on Facebook.

A man in Three Percenter gear attends a right-wing rally in Portland on Aug. 4, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

An investigation published by Reveal this week exposed a Portland police officer's inflammatory and offensive Facebook posts that raise questions about the Police Bureau's background investigation process and again raise the specter of bias in policing protests.

Before he was hired by the Portland Police Bureau, Eric Salmestrelli shared an Islamophobic post about President Barack Obama inside a group dedicated to the Oath Keepers, Reveal reported. The report also shows that Salmestrelli posted an image promoting the Three Percenters.

The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are anti-government paramilitary organizations with members who have frequently shown up at far-right rallies in Portland.

The Portland Police Bureau is under external review for possible bias in policing protests after WW and the Portland Mercury published friendly texts between a police lieutenant and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson. Members of the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers often appeared at Gibson's rallies in 2017 and 2018.

Reveal reported that PPB investigated Salmestrelli's conduct after discovering the Facebook posts, but did not discipline the police officer because the bureau determined "the posts in question all occurred prior to the member's employment with PPB, no jurisdiction existed for the enforcement of a policy related to a member that was not employed at the time of the violation."

Police have rarely arrested members of right-leaning groups that sometimes riot in Portland streets.

WW reached out to Salmestrelli, PPB and Mayor Ted Wheeler's office for further information about the bureau's hiring process and the investigation of Salmestrelli's Facebook posts. This post will be updated as more information is made available.

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