The Austin Police Department announced that it was launching an internal affairs investigation after a photo taken at a hate-group rally showed some of their officers in attendance.
Officials in the department sent a memo to city council members stating that "we do not justify or condone political activities in uniform" and that it would investigate whether the officers violated policies regarding "endorsements and political activities."
The picture was taken after a rally was held outside the department, but the rally organizers maintained that the hate-group extremists “photo-bombed” the picture.
However, the political nature of the picture could be a violation of the department’s policy.
On Sunday, people gathered outside the Austin Police headquarters to show support for the department and to protest the city council’s plan to cut the police budget. The rally came to an end near city hall, where the photo was taken.
The picture was shared on Reddit, and it showed people supporting the police and opposing politicians with some people seen standing near uniformed APD officers. Three individuals who appeared to be affiliated with the Proud Boys, an extremist white supremacist and anti-Semitic group, were on the far right of the picture wearing black and yellow. Rally organizers took to social media to state that they had been photo-bombed by the hate group.
“You can get beyond the plausible deniability of a few white supremacists at the end of a photo, but there are huge signs advocating for political causes and being present in photos like that is a violation of department policies,” Jimmy Flannigan, an Austin city council member for district 6, said.
Flannigan stated that the photo was both problematic and concerning.
He said: “Police officers take photos all the time with members of the public at community events, gatherings and rallies. There is very clear department policy about what you do when there is the presence of campaign signs or in the presence of advocacy around political actions.”
Sources: America Now