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.
The original picture posted says “Our color is gray. Our gender is Trooper.”
Many reacted to the image on Facebook in the comments section, calling it ‘tone deaf’ and ‘inappropriate’.
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.
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.”