Several police officers are under investigation after a photo surfaced of them making light of police violence at Arlington National Cemetery.
According to FOX 5 in Washington, DC, several officers with the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Police Department are on administrative leave and several others are under investigation following the posting of the photo, which was taken on Thanksgiving Day while the officers were on duty.
The photo shows seven officers clustered together, with one officer on his knees while his fellow policemen surround him in various positions. One has his baton raised, while another points his pepper spray canister at the subdued officer’s face.
EXCLUSIVE: Photo depicts officers laughing/glorifying police violence at Arlington National Cemetery. Now there's an internal investigation and two officers pictured are on administrative duty. Live report coming up at 6:30. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/6iYqfEVsmV
— Evan Lambert (@EvanLambertTV) November 26, 2017
Police brutality — particularly against young African Americans — has reached epidemic levels in the United States. The Guardian reported in January that in 2016, young black men between the ages of 15 and 34 were nine times as likely to be killed by police than any other group. Nearly 1,100 people were killed by police in 2016, and 1,146 were killed in 2015. The Washington Post has counted 880 people killed by police as of November 27 of this year.
Earlier this year, former St. Louis, Missouri police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith. Evidence on the scene suggested Stockley planted a gun on Smith following the shooting, as only Stockley’s fingerprints were found on the weapon recovered from Smith’s vehicle. Stockley also told his partner that he was “going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it” shortly before Smith initiated a vehicular pursuit when he was stopped conducting a small-time drug sale.
A spokesman for the joint Myer-Henderson base said the officers were “horsing around” and that their behavior does not reflect the department’s views. The investigation is being conducted by the department, whose jurisdiction includes the base and the area in and around Arlington National Cemetery.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.