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crossposted from unbossed

Police around the country are going under cover - or at least their tattoos are. In some instances this issue is presented as one of esthetics versus self-expression.  But if the tattoos are racist, do we want this fact covered up? Does the public have a right to know just who this person with the uniform and gun is?

A federal appeals court has upheld the right of the Hartford, Ct. police department to order police officers to cover up tattoos that the department reasonably believed represented white supremacist symbols. Inturri v. Hartford, No.05-2114, (2d Cir. 1/31/06) (unpublished opinion).

In this case, three police officers had tattoos of spider webs on their upper arms. The department received complaints that a spider web tattoo on the  upper arm signifies membership in the white supremacy group Aryan Nation. The City of Hartford has a large minority population. The Department said it was concerned that displaying the tattoos could cause an explosive situation. link and link.

For a photo of a spider web tattoo, look here and scroll down to Feb. 3.

But does covering up the tattoos makes sense?

If this is a racist symbol, isn't it better that the minority population of Hartford be informed just who it is they are dealing with? And if police sporting them do not want to misidentified, they can choose to go under the laser or cover 'em up. Maybe instead of covering them up, the city should order the cops to wear labels spelling it out: Public beware. I am a racist.

Originally posted to shirah on Mon Feb 13, 2006 at 05:26 AM PST.

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