COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A Columbus Division of Police officer was caught on tape this past weekend high-fiving a member of a white supremacist group, drawing a response from the department’s chief.
The incident took place Saturday morning outside a Clintonville church where a scheduled drag story time event had to be canceled due to safety concerns.
In the video, the officer is confronted by a woman who said her son was gay. The officer went on to say he was supporting the Proud Boys’ right to protest and not supporting their message.
The “Holi-drag” storytime event was to feature three drag queens reading stories to children and performing holiday songs. Dozens of armed members of the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front, many wearing tactical gear, followed through with their online threats to march through the streets of Clintonville and rally at the church.
Columbus Chief of Police Elaine Bryant said the officer was part of a dialogue team who was there to help defuse the situation.
“A video has been shown online that shows one of our dialogue team member high fiving a member of the Proud Boys,” she said in a video statement. “We understand how this looks and how this could make community members feel. However, this was not done to show solidarity, but an attempt to defuse a tense situation.”
Bryant said she understands the optics of the video and that it will be used as a training tool. She also points out there were no arrests, no violence, and no use of force at the protest.