Photo of a Philly Cop With a Nazi Tattoo Is All Over the Internet

The photos were posted to Facebook by a user who claims he took them at a Black Lives Matter march during the Democratic National Convention.

There’s a photograph circulating of an on-duty Philly cop with what appears to be a Nazi tattoo, and it’s causing all kinds of controversy.

The photo was posted to Facebook by Evan Parish Matthews, who claims the officer is named Ian Hans Lichtermann. Matthews said he took the photograph on July 26th, at a Black Lives Matter march during the Democratic National Convention.

Philadelphia police have not confirmed Lichtermann’s identity, but Philly Voice reports that there is an officer by the same name listed in Philadelphia payroll records.

One of Lichtermann’s tattoos pictured, the AR-15 with an American flag and “For God and Country” written above it, is the motto of the American Legion, while another is a little more unsettling – it reads “Fatherland” and has a parteiadler, the symbol of the Nazi Party. Fatherland was a term used to describe Germany during the Third Reich.

In a separate Facebook post today, Matthews said he filed an official complaint against Lichtermann, claiming that “the mere decision to get this tattoo, and choose his profession, casts disperses (sic) any faith in Officer Lichtermann’s ability to do his job in a non-oppressive/racist manner.”

Instagram and Flickr accounts allegedly owned by Lichtermann have recently been removed, though many of those photographs are still online, including several of his dogs, Gunny and Rommel (a reference to the WWII German general, perhaps?).

Philadelphia-based One People’s Project claims that Lichtermann was outed as a member of Blood and Honour, an online network of Neo-Nazi organizations, following a hack of Neo-Nazi websites in 2010. Philadelphia magazine has not been able to independently verify that claim.

According to the Northeast Times, Lichtermann was named an officer of the month in 2014.

The Philadelphia Police released a statement this afternoon about the photos:

The Philadelphia Police Department is aware of the image being displayed and circulated on social media. The post and photograph of the officer with tattoos displayed on his forearms was brought to our attention this morning, and we have forwarded it to internal affairs for review.

Currently, the department does not have a specific policy regarding the wearing /displaying of tattoos; however, the department will quickly move to assess and determine the appropriate policy moving forward.

The Department does not condone anything that can be interpreted as offensive, hateful or discriminatory in any form. 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.

Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement on the officer’s tattoo as well:

The imagery on display in the tweet is disturbing. I find it incredibly offensive, and I know many others do as well. This image is particularly offensive to our WWII veterans who fought valiantly to free Europe from Nazi Germany, as well as all victims of Nazi atrocities. I understand that the PPD will launch an internal investigation, and that should run its course. In this environment — in which open, honest dialogue between citizens and police is paramount — we need to be building trust, not offering messages or displaying images that destroy trust.

John McNesby, head of Philly’s Fraternal Order of Police, told “I’ve seen it. It’s an Eagle. Not a big deal.”

According to City Council President Darrell Clarke‘s communications director, Jane Roh, Clarke has spoken with Police Commissioner Richard Ross, and the police are taking the matter seriously.

In the meantime, the photo is drawing attention on Twitter:

Editor’s note: Matthews’s Facebook post originally stated that the pictures had been taken on July 28th; he later changed the date to July 26th. We have updated that information.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.