An investigation has been launched after a person believed to be an Anchorage police officer was shown in a photo with a woman in town for a Donald Trump rally flashing a novelty “white privilege card.”
The social media post caused concerns about racial equality in Alaska’s largest city.
Mimi Israelah claimed in a Facebook post that she was pulled over for weaving at 3:43 a.m. while driving to a pizzeria in Anchorage after arriving on an early-morning flight from California for Trump’s rally Saturday to support local Republican candidates he’s backed.
“Officer Bo” asked for her driver’s license but she couldn’t find it, she wrote on Facebook.
“When I saw my white privilege card, I gave to him if it’s ok,” she wrote. “He laughed and called his partner. It’s their first time to see a white privileged (sic) card,” she said.
The top of the novelty card reads: “White Privilege Card Trumps Everything.”
Israelah in her Twitter biography describes herself as Pinay, or a woman of Filipino origin.
A video apparently taken by Israelah of the encounter has been reposted on Twitter. Two officers are seen standing outside her car window. She asks one, “You like my white privilege card?” The unidentified officer says, “That’s hilarious.”
In the Facebook comments shown at the end of the video, someone asks if she received a ticket. She replied, “nope.”
The original Facebook post has been deleted but screenshots and the video appear on social media.
It was not immediately clear if disciplinary action would be taken against officers involved or if a citation was actually issued to Israelah.
“Per the municipal attorney’s office we are unable to answer these questions as the incident is currently under investigation and it relates to personnel matters,” Anchorage police spokesperson Sunny Guerin said in an email to The Associated Press.
Attempts to reach Israelah through her Facebook page were not immediately successful.
Police Chief Michael Kerle on Tuesday posted a message on the department’s website.
“Our mission is to protect and serve our community in the most professional and compassionate manner possible,” he wrote. “Our vision is to create an environment where everyone matters.”
Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus, an advocacy group for Black people and Indigenous people of color, said: “When you’re not able to recognize Black lives, you just don’t get to all lives.”
Hodge Growden said she was disappointed by the picture. She also wants to know what the consequences were for Israelah if she didn’t have her driver’s license and was weaving while driving.
“I know that there are people of color that weave and they get ticketed,” she said. “They don’t have that white privilege, get-out-of-a-citation card.”
Anchorage Police Sgt. Jeremy Conkling, president of the Anchorage police union, said the officers involved have been served with a notice of investigation.
Conkling told the Anchorage Daily News he knew little about the situation and couldn’t say how many officers were being investigated.
“There’s always more to the story than a photograph tells,” said Conkling, who didn’t immediately return a message from the AP.
When the investigation is complete, Hodge Growden said the results should be made public.