WASHINGTON - A D.C. police officer is off the streets while the department investigates what appears to be a photo of the officer wearing a shirt with a racist symbol while on duty.
A petition by the group Stop Police Terror Project D.C. identifies the officer as Vincent Altiere. The petition shows a picture of the officer, purported to be Altiere, wearing a shirt with the symbol known as the Sun Cross or Celtic Cross.
The petition says the symbol is "a well-known and notorious white supremacist symbol adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist hate groups."
More than 1,600 people have signed the petition demanding that police fire the officer.
The activists allege the officer was wearing the shirt on duty as well as in D.C. Superior Court. According to Metropolitan Police Department’s uniform policy, casual wear should not be worn during court appearances.
"If you are a police officer in this climate and in Washington D.C., you should know that this type of imagery and this type of behavior is not only totally unnecessary, but is going to make the citizenry and the populous feel very unsafe around you," said Eugene Puryear of the Stop Police Terror Project D.C.
The D.C. Police Union had no comment on the officer's behalf, other than to say that the officer and the union are cooperating with the investigation.
A D.C. police spokesman said the officer is working in a capacity where he does not interact with the public while the investigation is ongoing.
In a tweet, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham called the content on the shirt "disgraceful."
The police spokesman issued a statement, which reads in part, "The message conveyed on the T-shirt does not represent MPD's values. We understand the trust of the community is critical to our ongoing work and take seriously any incidents that may undermine the confidence the community has in our members."