Interim Police Commissioner Christine Coulter addressed an offensive t-shirt she was photographed wearing in the 90s.
What We Know:
- A photo, first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, shows Coulter wearing a white t-shirt with the phrase, “L.A.P.D. We Treat You Like a King” written on the chest.
- The shirt appears to be a reference to the infamous attack on Rodney King by LAPD officers in 1991. Coulter worked in the police department at the time of King’s assault.
- On March 3, 1991, four LAPD officers were recorded brutally beating King after he led them on a high-speed chase. The officers repeatedly struck King with their batons leaving him with 11 fractures. This incident increased racial tension nationwide as it was broadcasted across the country. The four officers were put on trial and acquitted for use of excessive force during King’s arrest. This sparked the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, a period of severe unrest in the city. Looting, assault and murder were committed during the week-long riots. It is estimated that 50 people were killed and thousands were injured during that time.
- The commissioner denied that the shirt was a reference to Rodney King stating, “It is clear it was a bad decision on my part and I would not wear that shirt today.“ She continued, “It may have meant something to people in L.A. … I can’t remember giving it a thought. But, I certainly can’t say I thought it meant Rodney King.”
Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cindy Bass was outraged over the incident. She wrote to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney calling for Coulter to “step down immediately.” Bass wrote that “it is inconceivable that she was unaware” that the statement on her shirt was controversial.
Mayor Kenney disagreed. His spokesperson told The Inquirer that he believed Coulter’s “recollection of her perception was truthful.”
Do you believe her?