Social media users over the weekend falsely accused a wounded veteran and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement analyst of being a Nazi after ICE tweeted out his picture with a partially obscured tattoo.
In a tweet sent on May 25, ICE showcased a member of its HERO Child-Rescue Corps, a program for former members of the armed forces to receive tech training to combat online child exploitation.
Learn more about HERO Child-Rescue Corps, a program for wounded, injured & ill Special Ops Forces to receive training in high-tech computer forensics & law enforcement skills, to assist federal agents in the fight against online child sexual exploitation https://t.co/g0DpFeb3fE pic.twitter.com/b7qTIbnuRR
— ICE (@ICEgov) May 25, 2018
But the tweet suddenly went viral over the weekend when social media users—including members of left-wing media and celebrities—accused the man pictured of being a Nazi, claiming that a mostly obscured tattoo on his elbow was the Nazi Iron Cross.
That's right, ICE put an iron cross in their self-promoting tweet.
Once more for those in the back:
THAT'S A NAZI TATTOO ON HIS LEFT ELBOW AND THIS IS OFFICIAL INSTITUTIONAL PROPAGANDA https://t.co/gxvsxkdbHh
— Abolish ICE (@QuantumTakes) June 18, 2018
ICE tweet with photo of agent who has a Nazi iron cross tattoo is completely real and has been up for weeks. https://t.co/49YL8hnjNQ
— David Bixenspan (@davidbix) June 18, 2018
Just ICE posting a photo of a guy with an Iron Cross tat.
But you know…don't call them nazis. That would be impolite. https://t.co/aMNBGngiRO
— David Atkins (@DavidOAtkins) June 18, 2018
I know I’m a leftist, "D List" actor, so my twitter feed is probably deceiving me, but is that an iron cross tattooed on this hero’s arm? This is a mistake, right? Cuz the Iron Cross was a symbol of Nazi Germany.
Gotta be my twitter feed is leaning left again. https://t.co/qsA6ynOfzB
— Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) June 18, 2018
what’s that tattoo on his elbow?
— isi breen (@isi_kbreen) June 18, 2018
i spy with my little eye a nazi iron cross tattoo on this member of the american gestapo https://t.co/gHlmIhoCMw
— molly 🌹 (@socialistdogmom) June 18, 2018
Need proof that @ICEgov is a white supremacist organization?
Look no further than their official advertisement featuring a man with a NAZI TATOO. https://t.co/bYuAsvlqCa
— Millennial Politics (@MillenPolitics) June 18, 2018
An ICE spokesman confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that the veteran pictured is Cpl. Justin Gaertner, who lost both legs in Afghanistan while sweeping for improvised explosive devices. The agency also said the tattoo is not of a Nazi symbol at all.
"Per Mr. Gaertner, the tattoo on his left elbow is the ‘Titan 2,' the symbol for his platoon while he fought in Afghanistan," ICE said. "The writing on his right arm is the Spartan Creed which is about protecting family and children."
Gaertner works as a computer forensics analyst for ICE, the agency said on Twitter on Monday.
Justin Gaertner is a combat wounded U.S. Marine who continues to serve his country as an ICE computer forensics analyst, helping solve criminal cases & rescue abused children. The tattoo shown here is the symbol for his platoon while he fought in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/BaOBxaAMHS
— ICE (@ICEgov) June 18, 2018
ICE claimed the tweet resurfaced and picked up steam when New Yorker reporter Talia Lavin wrote it was the Iron Cross, and that Levin deleted the tweet when veterans suggested it was not. Lavin's tweets are now protected, but a Google Cache shows her admitting that she deleted a tweet about the tattoo.