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Pittsburgh Police Chief Under Fire For Controversial Photo, Union Says Calls Department Racists

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh's Police Chief is under fire for a controversial photo that is making its rounds on Facebook, and some are saying the Chief called his entire department racist.

It happened during the First Night parade.

The protest group called Fight Back Pittsburgh carried signs saying "End White Silence."

On their Facebook page a photograph of Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay holding one of the group's banners, a poster that stated, "I resolve to challenge racism @ work #EndWhiteSilence."

On the group's twitter profile the group describes itself as a Pittsburgh-based collective working to create a world that is free of destructive white privilege and oppression.

The picture of the chief holding the sign set off the Pittsburgh Police union.

FOP President Howard McQuillan told KDKA's Marty Griffin: "The chief is calling us racists. He believes the Pittsburgh Police Department is racist. This has angered a lot of officers."

Police Chief Cameron McLay released the following statement about the allegations:

"I was hired to restore the legitimacy of the police department. I did not seek these young activists out. I was stopping for coffee at First Night. Their message is not anti-anybody. It is simply a call for awareness. The photo was a great, spontaneous moment in time. Please join dialogue for community healing."

Sources tell Griffin that McLay has been called to a meeting at City Hall regarding the photograph.

Police officers were so outraged by the photo, they thought it was photoshopped, but the police chief confirmed it was real.

A source of Marty Griffin's inside the Mayor Bill Peduto administration has called the photograph potentially very destructive, with no upside.

However Kevin Acklin, the Mayor's Chief of Staff, tells Ralph Iannotti, the mayor continues to support Chief McLay unequivocally in his efforts to improve dialogue between police and the community at large.

Acklin says it's part of a much larger national movement to improve relations.

The group that held the rally says the intention of the banner that the chief held was for "white people not to be afraid to talk about racism, we are inviting to white people to talk about race."

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