A Miami police officer has been placed on leave and is under investigation after a photo of him appearing to flash the "white power" sign started circulating on social media.
The photo in question showed seven Miami police officers and was captured on Friday after they made a big gun bust. The commander posted the image on Twitter.
Someone noticed the officer in the far end of the picture was flashing a hand gesture that is associated with "white supremacy." The officer was later identified as Daniel Ubeda. After the photo went viral, the tweet was deleted and the commander who posted the photo made his account private.
Police Union Says Ubeda was Holding Up Six Fingers to Refer to Colleagues
"This was meant to be private between him and his six guys," said President of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police Tommy Reyes. "It was not supposed to be posted on Twitter."
Reyes told Local 10 News Officer Ubeda made the hand gesture referring to "six" of his colleagues on his shift and not white power. Reyes added that he talked to Officer Ubeda and he said they discussed different hand signs and he believes the one seen in the photo is different than the one associated with white supremacy.
Reyes also said that both Ubeda's supervisor and the commander who tweeted the photo are Black, and that they never raised any issues with the hand gesture.
What Does the White Power Symbol Mean?
The "white power" hand gesture, which resembles the initials W and P, is popular among "people across several segments of the right and far-right," according to the Anti-Defamation League and the movement associated with the gesture, called "Operation O-KKK," was reportedly started on the anonymous message board platform 4chan in 2017.
Neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen and other white nationalists have been known to use the gesture in public "to signal their presence and to spot potential sympathizers and recruits," the New York Times reported in 2019.
The hand gesture is now being used as an expression of white supremacy. For instance, white supremacist Brenton Tarrant flashed the symbol during a March 2019 courtroom appearance for allegedly killing 50 people in a shooting spree at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Ubeda Reprimanded for Wearing 'Trump 2020' Mask to Polling Station
In October, Ubeda was reprimanded after he was photographed at a local polling station sporting his full uniform and a face mask that read "Trump 2020 No More Bulls*it," as previously reported by Law & Crime. The image went viral on social media, causing swift backlash from the community, with many saying that his conduct constituted voter intimidation.
Following the incident, the Miami Police Department released a statement saying Ubeda's conduct is "being addressed immediately."
"We are aware of the photograph being circulated of a Miami Police officer wearing a political mask in uniform. This behavior is unacceptable, a violation of departmental policy, and is being addressed immediately," the department wrote on Twitter at the time.