WASHINGTON — A D.C. police officer has been pulled off the streets and an internal investigation is underway after a group of citizens filed a formal complaint about his T-shirt.
Law 4 Black Lives DC filed a complaint and posted an online petition demanding the officer be fired after they found a shirt he wore while allegedly on duty and in court “offensive, racist and threatening.”
“I don’t think someone should have a badge and a gun or the ability take someone’s life or arrest them if they may be harboring these kind of white nationalist viewpoints,” said Eugene Puryear with Law 4 Black Lives DC.
The photo of the back of the officer’s shirt depicts the Grim Reaper with the D.C. flag behind it, carrying a gun. Above the figure is a banner reading “Powershift” with the O swapped out for what Law 4 Black Lives DC calls a sun cross, “a well known and notorious white supremacist symbol adopted by the Ku Klux Klan.”
Below the Grim Reaper are the letters MPDC, standing for Metropolitan Police D.C. and Seventh District. It also includes the sentence, “Let me see that waistband jo.”
The petition site said that refers to “jump outs and the routine practice of demanding to see the waistbands of individuals who are disproportionately young Black and Brown men.”
“What is MPD really doing to root out these kind of attitudes if an officer or officers could not only make this shirt but wear it on duty?” asked Puryear. “I doubt you’d wear this if you thought you’d lose your pension and your job.”
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham tweeted in response to the petition, “This is disgraceful and does not represent the hard working and committed officers of the Seventh District.”
The officer in question was photographed by a citizen who then sent the photo in to Law for Black Lives DC. While the online petition does identify the officer, WTOP could not independently verify his identity.
A statement from D.C. police called the T-shirt “disturbing and disgraceful.”
In that statement, the department also said it is launching an investigation into whether the officer may have worn the T-shirt on duty.
It also said the message conveyed on the T-shirt does not represent department values.
D.C. police said the “involved member has been placed in a noncontact status pending the outcome of the investigation.”