The MPD runs a unit there dubbed “Powershift.” Its logo features a grim reaper. In place of the standard letter “o” in the name, the logo uses the Celtic Cross, a piece of iconography frequently used by white supremacists.
The Powershift unit became a lightning rod for criticisms of police racism here just this past summer, after local activists uncovered social media posts from members that were indicative of a predatory, paramilitary attitude among officers — and also, depending who is evaluating the images, a bias against non-white people.
The logo has already caused one judge to dismiss a felony gun case after an officer involved was photographed wearing a shirt with the Powershift logo. The unit, logo, and social media postings are now the subject of an internal department investigation.
The white supremacist version of the Celtic Cross, which consists of a square cross interlocking with or surrounded by a circle, is one of the most important and commonly used white supremacist symbols. Although usually called a Celtic Cross by white supremacists, its origins date to the pre-Christian “sun cross” or “wheel cross” in ancient Europe. Norwegian Nazis used a version of the symbol in the 1930s and 1940s. After World War II, a variety of white supremacist groups and movements adopted the symbol. Today, this verson of the Celtic Cross is used by neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and virtually every other type of white supremacist. It has also achieved notoriety as part of the logo of Stormfront, the oldest and largest white supremacist website in the world.