A police officer whose Nazi-themed tattoo could be seen in photos on social media is under investigation, Philadelphia police said Thursday.
Activists on social media circulated a picture Wednesday night they said showed Officer Ian Hans Lichtermann’s left forearm tattoo of a Nazi Eagle with the word “Fatherland” written above it. His other arm displayed an assault rifle over a background of an American flag.
Philadelphia police announced its internal affairs unit was reviewing the picture, though the department doesn’t have a tattoo policy. The Facebook user who posted the image of the officer said it came from a July 26 protest march during the Democratic National Convention.
“The idea of being stopped, questioned, arrested, or of even passing this Officer on the street, Nazi insignias inscribed on his body with needle and gun, tattoo in plain sight, in a dominant placement on his body, is, in its most literal and modern sense, terrifying,” said the Facebook user, Evan Parish Matthews. The eagle on the apparent Nazi-cop’s forearm has its arms outstretched like the logo identified by the Anti-Defamation League as the Nazi War Eagle. The Nazis often referred to Germany as their “Fatherland” during the Third Reich.
Philadelphia police did not confirm or deny the authenticity of the photo. Yet department officials “will quickly move to assess and determine the appropriate policy moving forward” regarding display of tattoos, Philadelphia police said in a statement posted to the department’s Facebook page.
“The Department does not condone anything that can be interpreted as offensive, hateful or discriminatory in any form,” Philadelphia police said. “This is a very sensitive topic for both the citizens that we serve as well as the officers providing service to the public.”
“We must ensure that all constitutional rights are adhered to while at the same time ensuring public safety and public trust aren’t negatively impacted.” An officer named Ian Lichterman has served in the department since May 2003 and makes a salary around $72,000, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Lichterman hung up the phone when contacted by the newspaper, and the head of the local police union defended the tattoo.
“I’ve seen it. It’s an Eagle. Not a big deal,” John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, told the Inquirer.
Yet Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called the tattoo “incredibly offensive.” And Facebook users had shared Matthews post over 3,500 times by Thursday afternoon.
Several took to the department’s Facebook page to share their opinion of the tattoo.”I do hope he is fired. Or reprimanded,” one user said. “There is no place for anyone that has Nazi emblems tattooed on his person. This person is out there representing your police department.”