PHILADELPHIA --A Philadelphia police officer was under fire after a member of the Philadelphia Coalition for Real Justice snapped an image of him that showed a tattoo of an eagle with the word "Fatherland" over it. It was an image the group claimed was a Nazi insignia.
The officer has been identified as Ian Hans Lichtermann, a 17-year veteran of the department, who the FOP said has never been in any trouble.
"This symbol, like it is a very clear, it's not like just a generic symbol of Germany, it's like specifically from the time around the Nazi-era," said Cornelius Moody, Philadelphia Coalition for Real Justice.
The group demanded that the officer be fired.
"The officer should be removed immediately," Moody said. "He shouldn't be paid while he is being investigated."
The police administration said the matter was under review.
"Again, something we have to be mindful of, at no point in time does the department condone anything that may be interpreted as offensive, interpreted as hateful, or as being discriminatory in any form or fashion," Philadelphia Police Lt. John Stanford said.
On Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said if the symbol turns out to be what was alleged, that it could be very offensive.
"If in fact that's what it is, it's a disturbing visual. That is a symbol of what people in World War II fought against, so we'll see how it goes and see where it turns out," Kenney said.
But Philadelphia FOP President John McNesby said the officer, who is of German heritage, was trying to show his pride in the German-American Police Association, which he said used a similar symbol, which he provided for the media to see.
"He's a military veteran, he's a father, he's a great cop. On the other arm he has a tattoo of an American flag. Is that offensive? If he had a black panther on his chest or his back or his leg, would that be offensive?" McNesby asked.
McNesby said Lichtermann has an exemplary record with the department, with no disciplinary action ever taken against him.
"And now, he's being crucified, his family is being crucified. He had to change his phone number over a tattoo that he's had for a decade? Stop it. Come on," said McNesby.
As internal affairs conducts its investigation, McNesby said the FOP would defend the officer.