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A gun case was recently dismissed in Washington, D.C. when an arresting officer was alleged to have designed a racist T-shirt. Law4BlackLives, a group of legal professionals who work with the Black Lives Matter movement, says the shirt has racist symbols. The shirt was designed for and worn by members of  the 7th Police District “Powershift”unit that covers Southeast D.C., NBC Washington reports.

The shirt features an image of the Grim Reaper brandishing a rifle and the MPD badge under the heading “POWERSHIFT.” The Celtic cross, a symbol used by White supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan, is embedded in the “o” of “powershift.” Under the Grim Reaper, in smaller script, is the sentence, “Let me see that waistband jo.” The DC flag is in the background.

Law4BlackLives says that “jo” is short for “jump out,” a term that describes how police officers jump out of their vehicles to chase targeted Black men in the neighborhoods they patrol, often performing weapons checks without provocation. Others believe that “jo” is a mockery of slang overheard in Southeast D.C.  Police officials have denounced the shirts as “disturbing” and the officer who is alleged to have designed it has been assigned to desk duty.

Prosecutors tried to delay the trial pending an ongoing investigation into the shirts but the judge decided that such a delay would be unfair to the defendant, who had been jailed while awaiting trial. Prosecutors may refile the case later. This is the first dismissal related to the “Powershift” unit, and defense attorneys say that more cases could be affected by the fallout from the racist shirts.



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