The Philadelphia police department is looking into an image circulating on Twitter of an officer with what looks like a Nazi-style tattoo on his forearm.
In a statement posted on Facebook, police officials said that the image has been sent to the department’s internal affairs unit for review. The department has no policy on the display of tattoos by officers.
“The Department does not condone anything that can be interpreted as offensive, hateful or discriminatory in any form,” officials said in their statement. “This is a very sensitive topic for both the citizens that we serve as well as the officers providing service to the public.“
.@PPDCommish hi can you please explain why one of your officers, ian hans lichtermann, has a nazi tattoo on him? thx pic.twitter.com/CK9nAuiCGW— mindy isser (@mindyisser) September 1, 2016
The photo, first posted to Twitter on Thursday morning, shows an officer in a bike helmet and shirtsleeves with the word “Fatherland” in gothic script across his left forearm. The top of angular black eagle is visible beneath the lettering.
An angular black eagle gripping a swastika is a Nazi symbol which the Anti-Defamation League describes in its hate symbols database as having been “appropriated by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists worldwide.” No swastika is visible on the officer’s arm.
Police union officials dismissed concerns about the officer’s tattoo in a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I’ve seen it. It’s an Eagle,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 president John McNesby told the Inquirer. “Not a big deal.”
The Inquirer reported that the photo was taken at a July protest during the Democratic National Convention.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.