The usage of Frank Castle/The Punisher's symbol by law enforcement officers has proven controversial in recent years, and the St. Louis Police Officers' Association is under fire after its President, Ed Clark, asked people to post a variant of the iconic skull in solidarity with officers under investigation.
Clark posted a letter to the union's Facebook group, claiming, "Fellow officers are under [Internal Affairs Division] investigation and have been placed on the Circuit Attorney's exclusion list for merely posting a pro-police image of 'Blue Line Punisher Symbol.' This is wrong." He then went on to cite the service record of the officers, justifying their usage of the skull by saying, "There will always be someone who will find fault with any symbol we identify with or person we choose to carry our message."
Clark added, "The Blue Line symbol and the Blue Line Punisher symbol have been widely embraced by the law enforcement community as a symbol of the war against those who hate law enforcement. It's how we show the world that we hold the line between good and evil." He then asked for "officers and supports to adopt the Blue Line Punisher symbol as their profile symbol in a show of solidarity."
In a memo obtained by the St. Louis Dispatch, Louis Police Commissioner John Hayden said the usage of the symbol doesn't match the department's "mission to protect life and property and achieve a peaceful society." However, he did not outright ban the symbol, though he did caution officers to be careful about how they're being perceived by the community.
Gerry Conway, who co-created the violent vigilante alongside Ross Andru and John Romita Sr. in 1974's Amazing Spider-Man #129, has been outspoken against police officers using his character's symbol, saying, "...the Punisher represents a failure of the Justice system. He's supposed to indict the collapse of social moral authority and the reality some people can't depend on institutions like the police or the military to act in a just and capable way." Hayden cited Conway's view in his memo.
Marvels writer Kurt Busiek posted, "The Punisher is a serial killer who works outside the law," in response to the article, which was retweeted by Conway. Busiek spent much of the night explaining his views on the Punisher and why law enforcement professionals shouldn't valorize the murderous vigilante. Birds of Prey Gail Simone writer also chimed in, agreeing the usage of the Punisher's symbol by police is "gross."
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