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Philly's acting police commissioner asked to resign over T-shirt she wore 25 years ago that apparently joked about Rodney King beating


'It is clear that it was a bad decision on my part, and I would not wear that shirt today'

Image source: WPVI-TV video screenshot

Philadelphia's acting Police Commissioner Christine M. Coulter was asked to resign for wearing a T-shirt 25 years ago that apparently joked about the infamous Rodney King beating at the hands of Los Angeles police officers, WCAU-TV reported.

Coulter was speaking during a City Council hearing Tuesday about Philadelphia officers' racist social media posts when she turned attention to an old photo of her — initially reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer — which read, "L.A.P.D. We Treat You Like a King," the station said.

Image source: Twitter

Some have interpreted the T-shirt's words as a reference to the videotaped beating of King by four Los Angeles police officers in 1991, WCAU noted.

Image source: Twitter

What did Coulter have to say?

"It is clear that it was a bad decision on my part, and I would not wear that shirt today," Coulter said, the station reported. "Certainly, as I look at the past week and the hurt and damage it has caused people who I care about to communities that I always care about, I should have known."

Coulter said the photo was taken during a New Jersey beach gathering with fellow officers, WCAU reported, citing Coulter said during the hearing she didn't believe at the time that the T-shirt referenced the King beating, but she apologized nonetheless, the station said.

"My heart has been broken over this," Coulter added, WCAU reported. "There's folks in this room who I have served in their communities who know my heart and know that for 30 years I have served in black and brown communities with all that I ever have to give, never treating people unfairly or unjustly because of their race. Even people I've had to arrest, I treated like gentlemen or gentle ladies going through the process."

Call to resign

After Coulter's statement, city councilwoman Cindy Bass read from a letter she wrote to Mayor Jim Kenney calling for Coulter's resignation, the station said.

"I do not believe that the Acting Commissioner Christine M. Coulter can effectively manage the external relationships necessary to address police and community tensions which is absolutely required of any commissioner," Bass said in the letter, according to WCAU.

Bass asked for Coulter to step down immediately, the station added, which drew cheers from the crowd attending the hearing.

More from WCAU:

The hearing addressed a report, released by the Plain View Project in June, that showed the results of a two-year review of more than 3,000 racist Facebook posts and comments from both current and former officers in Philadelphia and seven other U.S. police departments.

The findings resulted in 72 Philadelphia police officers being placed on administrative leave, including the suspension of 13 officers with the intent of being fired. At least seven officers resigned shortly after that announcement was made.

Anything else?

A spokesperson from Kenny's office said that while the mayor believes the T-shirt was in poor taste, he's happy Coulter is taking responsibility for wearing it, WCAU reported. The spokesperson added to the station that Kenney hopes Coulter is judged on her decades of service rather than by one poor decision.

More from the station:

Coulter became Philadelphia's top cop last month after former Commissioner Richard Ross' sudden resignation. He stepped down one day after two female police officers filed an amended lawsuit alleging Ross didn't properly deal with their accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination against other members of the department. Ross was also accused of having an affair with one of the women.

Coulter was listed as a defendant in the federal lawsuit.

Image source: Twitter

Ross made headlines of a different sort last month when he expressed displeasure over a planned protest in support of a man accused of shooting six Philadelphia police officers.

Of the protest, Ross said, "I don't understand it. There's certain marches I do understand; this is definitely not one of them."

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