DC Cop Under Fire After Wearing Racist T-Shirt to Court Hearing

Offensive shirt worn by several members of the DC Metropolitan Police Department's 7th District. (Law4BlackLives)

(SBN) – What’s seen by many as ‘shocking’ t-shirts worn by a the D.C. Police Department’s 7th district ‘Powershift’ unit have triggered the dismissal of a gun case, and calls for the firing of a police officer pictured wearing it.  The shirts feature the Celtic cross – a symbol used by white supremacist groups,  an an image of the Grim Reaper holding a rifle, and an image of a DC Metropolitan Police badge.

The heading ‘Powershift’ which represents the name of the D.C. police unit assigned to the city’s predominately black Southeast region, appears in the header.

According to the Washington Post, Officer Vincent Altiere was still on duty when he was photographed in DC Superior Court, wearing a shirt.

The gun case was dismissed after the advocacy group Law4BlackLives pointed out the racist nature of the t-shirt, believed to have been designed by Altiere, the arresting officer.


Law4BlackLives told the WP:

The shirt displays a “sun cross” the cross replaces the letter “O” of “PowerShift”– a well-known and notorious white supremacist symbol adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist hate groups.”

Meantime, under the Grim Reaper, in smaller text which reads: “Let me see that waistband jo.”

Law4BlackLives activists  has started a petition calling for the officer to be fired.

In a statement describing the image the organization notes the irony: “The image of the Grim Reaper, a personification of death in the form of a hooded skeleton, holding an assault rifle and a Metropolitan Police Department badge.”

In a tweet, (below) D.C. Police Chief  Peter Newsham expressed his outrage over the t-shirts but said the he doesn’t think they represent the the hard work of the the officers of the 7th district.

Law4BlackLives countered, stating in the petition that it’s not and isolated incident:

Given the prominent placement of MPD logos and a badge number, the shirt does not appear to be attributed to Officer Altiere alone, but instead, appears to have been designed for a group of officers associated with the MPD Seventh District.

Ninety-five percent of the residents in MPD’s Seventh District are black and too many Seventh District residents have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of the police. It is time for the leadership of this city to acknowledge and address the systemic violation of rights, and threat of violence to Black people here in Washington D.C.”

Demands of the Law4BlackLives petition:

– That MPD terminate Officer Vincent Altiere and any other officers who create, wear, and/or propagate messages of hate and violence;

– That any MPD Officer who failed to report the wearing of this shirt be severely disciplined;

– That the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Police Complaints conduct a thorough investigation into all manifestations of racism and abuse of power by MPD Officers.


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