A video posted on Twitter showing a state Capitol Police officer speaking to an attendee at a National Socialist Movement rally in Little Rock on Saturday has drawn thousands of views online.
The clip appears to show an officer sharing advice about rifles with the man, who has a rifle slung across his back.
State Capitol Police Spokesman Chris Powell declined to comment on the video specifically, though he said Capitol police fulfilled their duties during the event.
“All of our officers performed professionally during the event and maintained a secure environment,” he said. “I wouldn’t have anything further to say.”
The video, posted by @FordFischer on Saturday, had more than 151,000 views as of 11 a.m. Monday. There were dozens of replies, including some questioning why a police officer would be talking about firearms with a rally attendee.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Socialist Movement is the largest neo-Nazi organization in the country. The movement's 25-Point Plan states opposition to non-European immigration and support of anti-Semitic beliefs.
Officers from the Little Rock Police Department were also at the event, providing support to Capitol police, Lt. Michael Ford, spokesman for the Little Rock agency, said.
Ford said their department does not discourage its officers from talking to attendees at rallies and protests, regardless of who is holding the event. “We’re not going to ever tell anybody not to talk to nobody,” he said.
During the protest, police blocked off roadways immediately surrounding the state Capitol. On Capitol Avenue, two dump trucks parked across the road prevented vehicles from driving up to the plaza.
“We just wanted to make sure that the entry control points were controlled and without using manpower that was the best way to do it,” Ford said.
Powell and Ford said these precautions were made because of encounters at similar events elsewhere in the country.
“What we were trying to do was prevent something such as in Charlottesville from happening here,” Ford said. “So we took a proactive approach and made sure that we had officers out there to make sure that nothing happened and they got to exercise their First Amendment right and everybody went home safe.”
Print Headline: Video of state Capitol officer speaking to rally participant draws attention, questions