Yet another police officer is in hot water over accusations that they shared a derogatory meme about George Floyd, joining the ranks of others who have allegedly made fun of the Black man’s death at the hands of law enforcement.
A cop in Sterling Heights, Michigan, was quickly placed on administrative leave this week after WXYZ-TV, an ABC affiliate in Detroit, reported that they’d allegedly posted an image to Facebook of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, along with the text: “When you gotta change a tire but don’t wanna get your trousers dirty.”
The officer was not named in the WXYZ report, which triggered an internal probe. Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli told VICE News that the department is investigating whether or not the officer posted the alleged photo.
Floyd’s fatal arrest last May spurred a global movement about racism and police accountability, along with calls for reform.
The city of Sterling Heights was quick to disavow the officer’s alleged post, writing in a statement on the police department’s Facebook page Wednesday that “there is no place for hateful and offensive content like that within our community.”
The police department is also taking the alleged post seriously.
“As a police officer when you post something it carries tremendous weight. That’s why we have a policy that says you can’t post anything inflammatory against a religion, race, gender. Nothing like that. It’s all prohibited,” Sterling Heights’ Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski told WXYZ.
But the officer’s alleged George Floyd meme is just the latest to cause outrage and investigations within law enforcement across the U.S.
The Los Angeles Police Department said earlier this month that it’s looking into one officer’s allegation that colleagues passed around a valentine-like photo of Floyd with the words “You take my breath away,” according to the Los Angeles Times. It wasn’t entirely clear whether the image circulated online or through other means.
And, back in June, a sheriff’s deputy in Trinity County, California, was placed on administrative leave—and eventually left the department—after he allegedly posted an image to Instagram that showed a deceased pornographic actor sitting on Floyd’s head, according to KRCR-TV, an ABC affiliate in Redding.
Outside of the U.S., a cop in the U.K. was charged after allegedly sharing an offensive meme of Floyd to a WhatsApp group of police colleagues on May 30, according to a January report from the Guardian.
The recent spate of police meme-related scandals have involved images of Floyd’s death, but police have a history of problematic posts on social media.
The Plain View Project, which compiled a database of current and former police officers’ more troubling behavior on social media, garnered widespread attention in 2019. After that database was made public, Philadelphia’s police commissioner yanked more than 70 officers from street duty while the department investigated offensive posts and comments. Phoenix’s police chief also put some cops on non-enforcement assignments after they were included in the Plain View Project database, according to the New York Times.