An officer who allegedly took a photograph of himself in blackface and posted it on social media has been placed under restrictive orders while the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division investigates the alleged incident.
“The police department is aware of the image. The depiction is offensive, and the Department takes matters such as these very serious. Internal Affairs is investigating,” wrote a police spokesman in an email Tuesday afternoon.
In the online photo, a man identified by local civil rights activists as police officer Hung Nguyen is seated at a table in blackface and a wig that looks like an Afro. He has a plate of fish and grits in front of him.
Asa Khalif, of the Coalition 4 Black Lives, said the photo was posted to Nguyen’s Facebook profile over the weekend. The picture since has been taken down and Nguyen’s account was inactive Tuesday.
Rochelle Bilal, president of the Guardian Civic League, an organization that represents Black police officers, was offended by the picture.
“This is happening way too often,” Bilal said. “This, if it’s him, is dumb, stupid and anything else you can say bad about what has happened.”
Bilal did not go as far as to say Nguyen should be fired.
“At the very least, he should have to go through some sort of cultural sensitivity training,” Bilal said.
One of the first people to see the Facebook post was former Philadelphia police officer Andre Boyer.
“This is a serious matter that is even more serious when you are aware of some of the underlying tensions on the city’s police force,” said Boyer, who also posted information about the incident on his Facebook profile.
“It is very concerning and problematic. I hope that something is done. This is the type of thing that can create really bad tension on the police force if it’s not addressed swiftly.”
Khalif called for Police Commissioner Richard Ross to take swift action on the matter.
“I’m asking Commissioner Ross to publicly denounce the officer’s picture and to immediately suspend officer Nguyen,” he said.