It looks like somebody hasn’t gotten the memo about police officers using the Punisher’s skull symbol. According to a report from the New York Daily News, a police union urged members Wednesday to post images of the Punisher skull as a show of solidarity for police officers under internal investigation by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department after The Plain View Project exposed messages posted to officers’ social media profiles deemed racist, anti-Muslim, or otherwise inappropriate, including images containing the Punisher skull logo.
However, the St. Louis Police Commissioner, Colonel John W. Hayden, Jr., disagrees, sending a memo to department members Thursday urging them not to post Punisher skulls because the character “engages in acts of violence, to include murder, kidnapping, and extortion in his one-man effort against crime” and because the department “must remain cognizant of the messages certain posts may send and the interpretation the community may have of them.
The memo, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, can be read below:
As you are aware, our Department has recently been scrutinized following the release of a study completed by The Plain View Project. This report identified numerous postings on social media outlets allegedly authored or shared by members of our agency. Without question, there are some that are offensive, upsetting, and substandard to our agency Mission Statement and Code of Ethics.
With this, The Plain View Project included several photographs which depict the ‘Punisher’ logo. The Punisher is a fictional, comic book vigilante. The character himself engages in acts of violence, to include murder, kidnapping, and extortion in his one-man effort against crime.
As law enforcement officers, our fundamental responsibility is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice. This is the oath we all took.
Although fictional in nature, the Punisher logo does not coincide with our mission to protect life and property and achieve a peaceful society. Gerry Conway, the co-founder of this comic character, has himself stated that “the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system … the reality some people can’t depend on institutions like the police or military to act in a just and capable way.
Undeniably, the recent social media coverage impacts our community relations, our potential ability to protect your integrity, and forces us all to work harder to build and mend relationships. While social media can be an asset in continuing relations with family, friends and colleagues, we all must remain cognizant of the messages certain posts may send and the interpretation the community may have of them.
Colonel John W. Hayden, Jr.
As noted in the memo, Punisher creator Gerry Conway has previously spoken out about police identifying with the fictional vigilante who murders criminals. Most recently, The Punisher himself has come out against the usage in the pages of a Marvel comic book.