MIAMI (WSVN) - City of Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo is at the center of a controversy after a picture surfaced on social media with a hand gesture many believe to be the symbol of white power, days after another officer in the department was relieved of duty at least partly for allegedly posing with the same gesture.
The picture in question was taken when Acevedo served as the chief of the Houston Police Department.
Tommy Reyes, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police weighed in on the matter on Friday.
“I think it’s very hypocritical that the chief has used these exact hand signals in the past, and he’s relieving somebody of duty, which draws huge attention to somebody,” he said.
Reyes is referring to Officer Daniel Ubeda being relieved of duty earlier this week after he was accused of using the gesture.
“It’s a joke. It was an internal joke amongst him and his five co-workers,” he said. “The hand signals signify that there’s six of them. He’s holding up six fingers, that there’s six of them, and they all ride motorcycles, and they all ride on the afternoon shift.”
On its website, the Anti-Defamation League describes the gesture as the raised middle, ring and pinky fingers representing a “w” and the circle formed by the thumb and index fingers forming a “p” with the wrist.
By 2019, the Anti-Defamation League wrote, “at least some white supremacists use the symbol as a sincere expression of white supremacy.”
However, the league also acknowledges many people have been wrongly accused of using the symbol.
After he spoke with Acevedo, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said this is definitely the case here.
“He said he was entering the George Floyd Memorial at Jack Yates High School, which is in Houston, it’s the Third Ward, and [the gesture] is called the ‘tre,’ and the community uses the ‘tre’ hand signal as their support of the Third Ward,” said Suarez, “so it had nothing to do with white power. It had to do with supporting George Floyd in a high school that he was at that uses that symbol.”
Even Grammy-winning singer Beyoncé uses the gesture whenever she’s mentioned with her hometown of Houston and the Third Ward.
Third Ward Is Home, a Houston organization that combats poverty and homelessness, appears to use the symbolic gesture as well in its logo.
“Never questioned his commitment to the profession, and never questioned his love of people,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.
Finner, who said he was present when the picture of Acevedo was taken, also explained the gesture.
“It’s a sense of pride for that particular community, and that goes decades back,” he said.
7News reached out to Miami Police on Friday. He was out of the office and unable to comment.
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