A Miami police officer has been relieved of duty for displaying a hand signal that some interpret as a white power message while posing for a picture.
Officer Daniel Ubeda also was reprimanded in October, after he strolled through a voting site at Miami’s Government Center in uniform and on duty while wearing a Donald Trump campaign face mask.
The latest incident happened last week. Not long after his unit took part in a large weapons bust, Ubeda was photographed standing in uniform at the end of a line with six other officers, openly displaying the last three fingers on each hand with his thumb and index finger touching and forming a circle.
The picture was posted on the Twitter account of Ubeda’s commander and was taken down within 48 hours. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the centuries-old sign for “okay” was co-opted several years ago by racist groups as a sign representing white power.
Ubeda was relieved of duty last weekend by Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, who referred the incident to Internal Affairs.
Acevedo’s decision was slammed by union leadership representing Ubeda. Fraternal Order of Police President Tommy Reyes said he spoke with Ubeda and called the hand gesture “a joke” meant for his supervisor, who is Black. Reyes said the group refers to itself as the “B Shift Six,” which was what Ubeda was trying to express.
“To me it’s clearly not the same signal,” said the union president. “It’s just another knee-jerk reaction from Art Acevedo.”
In October, Ubeda was spotted near a voting booth at Miami’s Government Center wearing a blue and white mask that said “Donald Trump 2020” and “no more bull….,” while in uniform. The head of Miami-Dade’s Democratic party, who happened to be at the polling site at the same time, took a picture and questioned the officer, who he said laughed off the incident.
The mayor and senior police staff said Ubeda had clearly violated department policy and initiated an investigation. The story made national headlines in the weeks leading up to the fractious presidential election eventually won by Joe Biden.
An internal investigation determined in March that Ubeda had violated department procedural and discourtesy policies and he received a written reprimand.