Mayor Kenney on Thursday condemned a photo of a Philadelphia police officer with an apparent Nazi-style tattoo on his arm, saying the tattoo was "incredibly offensive" and not the sort of message police should be giving the community.
The Police Department also said its Internal Affairs unit would review the photo, which began circulating on social media Wednesday night. It showed a bike-patrol officer with a tattoo on his left forearm of an apparent spread-winged eagle resembling a symbol used by the Nazis, and above it the tattooed word Fatherland in Gothic letters.
"The imagery on display in the tweet is disturbing," Kenney said in a statement, adding: "In this environment — in which open, honest dialogue between citizens and police is paramount — we need to be building trust, not offering messages or displaying images that destroy trust."
The Police Department said in a statement that it "does not condone anything that can be interpreted as offensive, hateful or discriminatory in any form."
The photo was posted Wednesday night on Facebook by a user named Evan Parish Matthews. The officer in the photo has a name badge saying "Lichtermann," and Matthews identified the officer in his Facebook post as Ian Hans Lichtermann. Matthews wrote that the photo was taken at a protest march during the Democratic National Convention in late July.
According to city payroll records, an officer whose name is Ian Lichterman joined the Police Department in April 2000 and left in August 2002. He returned in May 2003, records show, and his current salary as a police officer is about $72,000. It was not immediately clear why the records show a gap in his service or a name spelled differently from that on his uniform.
The officer hung up on a reporter when reached on his cellphone Thursday.
In a text message, John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, wrote of the photo: "I've seen it. It's an Eagle. Not a big deal."
"City not concerned neither are we," McNesby wrote before Kenney's statement. "I see people with panthers on their arm. Doesn't mean they are black panthers. People with crosses on arms doesn't mean they dislike any other religion."
The Police Department does not have a policy regarding tattoos, but police officials said Thursday they would move quickly to decide whether such a policy should be drafted.
After Matthews posted the photo, it was shared on Twitter by Mindy Isser, a 25-year-old Point Breeze resident. In an interview Thursday, Isser said she was in disbelief that a police officer could have a tattoo that suggested hatred for minorities.
"With everything going on, with all the police violence and police killings, it's kind of striking," she said.
As of 3:45 p.m. Thursday, Matthews' Facebook post had been shared more than 3,700 times, and Isser's tweet with the photo had been shared more than 3,200 times.
Matthews also wrote a new post saying he had filed a complaint with the Police Department, describing the tattoo as an "intimidating display," and saying it would be "terrifying" to be arrested by the officer.