KSP social media photo draws controversy

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Source: Kentucky State Police/Facebook

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Controversy, over a picture shared on social media by Kentucky State Police on Wednesday.

KSP has responded after sharing a cover photo on its’ Facebook page. It’s since been taken down but not before thousands of shares and comments.

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The original picture posted says “Our color is gray. Our gender is Trooper.”

Source: Kentucky State Police/Facebook

Many reacted to the image on Facebook in the comments section, calling it ‘tone deaf’ and ‘inappropriate’.

The Kentucky Fairness Campaign took to social media to respond to the image saying, “You just can’t make this stuff up. Check out the anti-#POC & anti-#LGBTQ post from KY State Police.”

Chris Hartman, Executive Director of the Fairness Campaign, said he was in disbelief when he first saw the image, “I was in disbelief something this ignorant was posted by a major state agency. Unfortunately, the fact that it came from the Kentucky State Police did not surprise me, given their sordid history. A state agency that will allow trainings highlighting quotes from Adolf Hitler is likely to do anything to further marginalize some of our state’s most vulnerable populations.”

Hartman referred to a state investigation that found a Kentucky law enforcement training video, that included a Nazi symbol, was lifted from an online white supremacist source that makes derogatory references to Jews and was presented during training classes as documented fact, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

In terms of the image shared on Wednesday, Hartman called it racist and transphobic, “It is in direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement and this moment for transgender rights. And even if we are to believe that whoever posted the image did not understand that, the thousands of comments within a couple of hours, the vast majority of them saying the image is offensive, should have pushed them to remove it much sooner than they did. The insensitivity is astounding.”

“Rather than own up to their mistake, the Kentucky State Police has refused to make any statement or talk to any media regarding this situation,” added Hartman. “It is an embarrassment to our state. They must issue a full apology and discuss measures that will be taken within the department to prevent this type of ignorant racism and transphobia in the future. I doubt they will do any of that.”

KSP later removed the picture. Sgt. William Gregory, with KSP, issued a statement:

“Over the past 25 years, the Kentucky State Police has used the phrase to demonstrate that the agency is committed to racial and gender inclusivity. Prior to today, we were unaware of any concerns raised about the phrase. Given that KSP is committed to providing professional services to everyone in the commonwealth and is actively pursuing a diverse workforce, we look forward to discussing and learning more about the concerns raised today.”

KSP later replaced the photo with a different image showing three officers.

Source: Kentucky State Police/Facebook

Many commented on the new photo, some still demanding an apology for the removed image, others said they stand by our troopers.

“People of Color and transgender people, who already face disproportionate abuse at the hands of police, will surely never be able to trust an agency that disrespects identity in such away,” said Hartman. “A uniform and a profession are not immutable characteristics and should never be compared to them.”

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Erica joins the ABC 36 family as a Co-Anchor of Good Morning Kentucky weekday mornings from 5am-7am with Cody Adams and Good Day Kentucky weekday mornings from 9am to 10am. Erica also anchors News at Midday from 12-12:30pm. She is also a Web and Social Media Content Producer. Erica graduated in three and a half years from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and specialization in Women, Gender and Social Justice. Although she hails from Michigan, Erica has worked as a News Reporter/Sports Anchor for the CBS-affiliate in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to that, she worked for a PBS-affiliate there covering all types of news – even providing live reports for The Weather Channel during her first hurricane. She then moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana and worked as the Weekend Anchor/Reporter at KPLC, the NBC/FOX/CW affiliate. Erica comes to Lexington from the Huntington area where she worked at WSAZ, an NBC/CW affiliate in West Virginia, as a weekday evening anchor covering the tri states of Ohio and Kentucky as well. In addition to her background on TV, Erica has worked in radio, served as the PA announcer for the Class A "Lansing Lugnuts" and hosted Carnival parades in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of her favorite hobbies include running, reading, hiking, spending time with her husband and taking pictures of their furbabies. Erica is big on community involvement, having served as a board member for Dress for Success, volunteered as a Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters, worked on the Mayor's Armed Forces Commission in Lake Charles and hosted countless events. She hopes you can connect with her on Facebook: EricaBivensTV and on Twitter: @ericabivens or Instagram: erica.bivens. You can also email her at ebivens@wtvq.com. Please send all event inquiries via email. Erica is excited to explore Lexington and the outdoors and - of course - meet all of you!