Just because of the T-shirt she wore 25 years ago, Philadelphia’s acting Police Commissioner feared losing her job.
Philadelphia City Council hearing on racist social media posts by police officers took a dramatic turn when Coulter apologized for a controversial t-shirt she wore in the 1990s, prompting a councilwoman to call for her resignation.
Christine Coulter ignited an uproar when a 25-year-old photo showed her donning a white T-shirt with the words, “L.A.P.D. We Treat You Like a King,” written in black. The T-shirt seemed to joke about the beating Rodney King got from police officers with the Los Angeles department.
The T-shirt has been interpreted as a reference to the beating of King in 1991 by four Los Angeles officers, which was videotaped.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Coulter said she didn’t realize at the time that the shirt was an apparent reference to the highly publicized King beating, but said she was “profoundly sorry” for wearing it, nonetheless. She previously said the photo had been taken during a gathering with other officers at the Jersey Shore when she policing the city’s 25th district.
At the time the picture was taken, Coulter was at the New Jersey beach with a couple of her fellow officers. She told the members present at the hearing that she didn’t believe that the t-shit referenced King, but she still apologized.
“My heart has been broken over this. There are 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,” Coulter added.
After her statement, city councilwoman Cindy Bass read a letter that she had written to Mayor Jim Kenney, calling for Coulter’s immediate resignation.
A portion of the letter that was written to Mayor Jim Kenney as for Coulter’s immediate resignation:
“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 are absolutely required of any commissioner.”
Bass called for Coulter’s immediate resignation, and the crowd in attendance cheered.