The Punisher is a character with a pretty fraught history with relation to our real world’s politics. The two intersected again this week as a Dallas police officer was seen wearing the Punisher logo during an altercation at a community oversight meeting. KXAS-TV reports that Dallas’s Community Police Oversight Board had their first public meeting this week and residents showed up to voice their concerns about law enforcement. Unfortunately, the floor was not open to community comments during the meeting.
Police Chief U. Renee Hall and her department have found themselves under intense scrutiny after high-profile cases have shown the department in a negative light. Amber Guyger was found guilty of murdering Botham Jean in his home after she mistakenly thought the apartment was her own. Then, the murder of Joshua Brown, who testified in the case involving Guyger has a community searching for answers. The department maintains that it had no involvement in the murder as they claim that Brown was a victim of a drug deal gone wrong.
After realizing that there would be no public comments heard by the board, members of the audience tried to approach the podium to say what was on their mind. Soon, a tussle broke out and officers tried to clear the room. In the resulting fracas, one Dallas PD officer has a baseball cap with the Punisher logo on the back. Dallas PD told io9 that the image is being, “actively investigating this incident as a violation of the uniform policy.”
Still, the optics might not be great as a community is trying to establish trust with their department after a tumultuous month. The character’s creator has spoken up this year about seeing the symbol of The Punisher on law enforcement and military vehicles. He thinks that the people using the symbol are missing the point.
"I've talked about this in other interviews," Jerry Conway said in an interview earlier this year. "To me, it's disturbing whenever I see authority figures embracing Punisher iconography because 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."
"The vigilante anti-hero is fundamentally a critique of the justice system, an example of social failure, so when cops put Punisher skulls on their cars or members of the military wear Punisher skull patches, they're basically sides with an enemy of the system," Conway went on. "They are embracing an outlaw mentality. Whether you think the Punisher is justified or not, whether you admire his code of ethics, he is an outlaw. He is a criminal. Police should not be embracing a criminal as their symbol."
"It goes without saying," Conway concluded. "In a way, it's as offensive as putting a Confederate flag on a government building. My point of view is, the Punisher is an anti-hero, someone we might root for while remembering he's also an outlaw and criminal. If an officer of the law, representing the justice system puts a criminal's symbol on his police car, or shares challenge coins honoring a criminal he or she is making a very ill-advised statement about their understanding of the law."