Two Jewish police officers in Philadelphia have filed a federal lawsuit against their department after their colleagues allegedly discriminated against them by etching Nazi symbols inside lockers and using anti-Semitic slurs against them.
The Philadelphia Enquirer reported that Officers Stacey Gonzalez and Pavel Reznik accused their supervisor, Cpl. Karen Church, and more than 10 officers in the city’s Ninth District of violating their civil rights and creating an unsafe work environment.
In their suit, the officers who have a combined 33 years of service on PPD said the bulk of the discrimination took place in the daily remarks and jokes they dealt with from their colleagues.
They did, however, claim they found a Nazi “SS” symbol etched inside a locker and a Star of David with the phrase “Hebrew Hammer,” a possible reference to the 2003 film by Jewish actor Adam Goldberg, written on the outside of a patrol car.
Gonzalez alleged that Cpl. Church once asked her “Why doesn’t the United States just take a missile and blow up Israel?” When she told the supervisor she was offended, Church reportedly then spoke to her in a “demeaning” manner and made her stay after her shift and clean up.
The female officer also said the supervisor “punished her for using break time to obtain religious items on the eve of Yom Kippur.”
In another anecdote, Gonzalez said a coworker told her not to bring kosher food to a 2018 Memorial Day potluck in a tirade that included curse words.
Reznik, a Russian immigrant, said the discrimination began when he was in the police academy when someone put on a fake Russian accent and said they would “break” him — a threat that was allegedly repeated by a sergeant years later.
It was Reznik’s car where the “Hebrew Hammer” graffiti was found and the locker next to his was defaced with the “SS” symbol and the German word “Totenkopf,” a term that translates to “death’s hand” and was used for the Nazi guards that patrolled death camps during the Holocaust.
The lawsuit alleged that after someone made a joke about matzo crackers at the Russian-American officer, another cop their colleague not to be racist.
“It’s not racism,” a third officer allegedly responded, “it’s anti-Semitism.”
Reznik also claimed in the suit that he was regularly denied time off requests for Jewish holidays.