Photo shows of­fi­cers dis­play­ing flag ad­vo­cat­ing vi­o­lence, com­plaint claims

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - BY JUSTIN JOUVENAL justin.jouvenal@wash­ Justin Wm. Moyer con­trib­uted to this re­port.

A newly un­cov­ered photo show­ing a D.C. po­lice unit dis­play­ing a flag with a logo that fea­tures a skull and crossed guns was crit­i­cized by an ad­vo­cacy group that says it en­dorses po­lice vi­o­lence against city res­i­dents.

The group, Law for Black Lives, filed a com­plaint with the city and po­lice de­part­ment ask­ing that the Gun Re­cov­ery Unit be rep­ri­manded for us­ing the logo, which fea­tures the cap­tion “Vest Up One in the Cham­ber.”

D.C. po­lice said Fri­day that they have opened an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter and “will take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.”

“By openly en­dors­ing po­lice bru­tal­ity, mur­der, and white supremacy while pa­trolling pre­dom­i­nantly black neigh­bor­hoods, th­ese of­fi­cers have re­scinded their right to pa­trol as they di­min­ish the pub­lic’s trust of the po­lice and pose a threat to pub­lic safety,” Eu­gene Puryear of Law for Black Lives wrote in a state­ment. The group is as­so­ci­ated with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

In a state­ment, po­lice said the photo was taken in 2016 and that a cur­rent mem­ber of the Gun Re­cov­ery Unit posted it to a per­sonal Twit­ter ac­count.

“Ev­ery day, the women and men of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice De­part­ment work tire­lessly to en­sure res­i­dents and vis­i­tors are safe and live up to their mis­sion of ‘here to help,’ ” po­lice said in the state­ment. “The im­age is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our of­fi­cers’ con­nec­tion to, count­less pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tions with and trust built among our res­i­dents and vis­i­tors.”

The com­plaint comes as po­lice al­ready were con­duct­ing an in­ter­nal in­quiry into a con­tro­ver­sial T-shirt that one of­fi­cer was spot­ted wear­ing in a res­tau­rant and in D.C. Su­pe­rior Court. The shirt fea­tures the Metropoli­tan Po­lice De­part­ment logo, a grim reaper and a sym­bol Law for Black Lives said it con­sid­ered racist.

The shirt also in­cludes the word Pow­er­shift, re­fer­ring to a unit that pa­trols high-crime ar­eas in D.C.’s 7th District. The im­age in­cludes a cross over­laid on the “o” in Pow­er­shift. Law for Black Lives said the sym­bol was adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and “pro­motes white su­prem­a­cist ide­olo­gies,” but the sym­bol also has other in­ter­pre­ta­tions.

Po­lice sus­pended the of­fi­cer seen wear­ing the shirt pend­ing the out­come of that in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

A D.C. judge also dis­missed a gun pos­ses­sion case amid ques­tions over whether other Pow­er­shift of­fi­cers in­volved in that case wore or had any role in the cre­ation of the T-shirt.

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