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The St. Louis Police Union is urging police officers to post the logo from The Punisher–a Marvel comic and Netflix show about a murderous vigilante–in solidarity with officers currently under investigation for racist and violent Facebook posts.
In June, the St. Louis police department launched an investigation into several current and former police officers for sharing racist and violent Facebook posts. Hundreds of the posts–including those about white pride, criticizing Islam, and commemorating the Confederate flag–were collected in a database called the Plain View Project.
During a House Oversight subcommittee hearing in June, Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) said there were “over 400 racist, violent, or bigoted” posts from current and former St. Louis police officers.
“Looking at almost 25% of local and state law enforcement posting hateful things on social media, that tells me there’s a culture problem in law enforcement in this country,” Clay said.
Now, the head of the St. Louis Police Union, Ed Clark, is calling for officers to use an altered version of The Punisher’s skull to stand in solidarity with those on leave and under investigation.
“As most of you are aware some of our fellow officers are under IAD investigation and have been placed on the Circuit Attorney’s exclusion list for merely posting a pro-police image of ‘Blue Line Punisher Symbol,'” Clark wrote in a statement on the St. Louis Police Officers Association Facebook page. “The Blue Line symbol and the Blue Line Punisher symbol have been widely embraced by the law enforcement community as a symbol of the war against those who hate law enforcement. It’s how we show the world that we hold the line between good and evil.”
The Punisher centers around a former Marine who recommits himself to a life of vigilante justice to avenge his murdered family. Long story short, he’s an anti-hero who kills a lot of people.
While some lauded the movement and called for people to “back the blue,” others pointed out its irony.
“The Punisher is a homicidal vigilante who operates outside the law, dispensing vengeance, not justice,” Jim MacQuarrie commented. “Any police officer who wears or displays that logo is by definition unfit for their job.”
In a recent interview, Gerry Conway, creator of The Punisher, said he’s alarmed that police are idolizing the character.
“(The Punisher is) supposed to indict the collapse of social moral authority and the reality some people can’t depend on institutions like the police or the military to act in a just and capable way,” Conway said. “He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol.”
- A review of officers’ Facebook accounts shows routine racist, violent posts
- 72 officers removed from patrol over ‘offensive’ Facebook posts
- 25 Dallas officers under investigation for ‘racist, violent’ Facebook posts
- Hundreds of police officers belong to extremist Facebook groups, investigation finds
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Katie Balevic is an editorial intern at the Daily Dot where she enjoys covering social justice issues and politics. Her previous work has appeared in the Daily Texan, the Victoria Advocate, and the Houston Defender.