Pittsburgh police chief’s ‘challenge racism’ photo angers cop unions

Cop unions in Pittsburgh blasted the city’s police chief after he posed with a sign promising to “challenge racism @ work.”

“The chief is calling us racists,” union president Howard McQuillan told KDKA. “He believes the Pittsburgh Police Department is racist. This has angered a lot of officers.”

Chief Cameron McLay was photographed with the cardboard sign, which included the hashtag “#EndWhiteSilence,” during a New Year’s Eve celebration in the city called First Night.

The activist group WWHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh uploaded the controversial pic with the caption “Right on Chief McLay!”

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay set off a battle with police unions when he posed with a sign that reads, ‘I resolve to challenge racism @ work #EndWhiteSilence.’
WWHAT’S UP?! PITTSBURGH/FACEBOOK

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay set off a battle with police unions when he posed with a sign that reads, ‘I resolve to challenge racism @ work #EndWhiteSilence.’

Officers on the city’s nearly 900-member force saw the photo op as not-so-subtle diss at Pittsburgh’s finest, but the chief claimed that wasn’t the intention.

“I was hired to restore the legitimacy of the police department,” McLay said in a statement.

“I did not seek these young activists out. I was stopping for coffee at First Night. Their message is not anti-anybody. It is simply a call for awareness. The photo was a great, spontaneous moment in time. Please join dialogue for community healing.”

Pittsburgh protesters have joined activists in cities across the nation to rally against heavy-handed policing following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of police officers.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay promised to fix any problems with racial injustice he finds within the police department.Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay promised to fix any problems with racial injustice he finds within the police department.PreviousNextPittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay promised to fix any problems with racial injustice he finds within the police department. Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay says he didn’t intend to offend officers.

Cops, including unions in New York City, have argued the movement has become a dangerous war on police and cite the deadly ambush of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were gunned down in December by a deranged shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, as they sat in their car.

In an email to Pittsburgh officers obtained by WTAE, McLay apologize to any cops who were offended but vowed to continue to fight against inequality.

“The sign indicated my willingness to challenge racial problems in the workplace,” McLay wrote. “I am so committed. If there are problems in the (Pittsburgh Bureau of Police) related to racial injustice, I will take action to fix them.”

dmmurphy@nydailynews.com

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/pittsburgh-police-chief-challenge-racism-pic-angers-cops-article-1.2064875