An Alabama law enforcement agency is removing an offensive picture from its social media account after it got wide backlash online.
Local Mobile, Ala., station WPMI reports the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office posted a digitally altered picture of a Christmas tree on its Facebook page earlier this month. Mugshots were used as “ornaments” on the tree and the photo was posted with the caption: “We have decorated our Tree with THUGSHOTS to show how many Thugs we have taken off the streets of Mobile this year! We could not have done it without our faithful followers!”
If that wasn’t egregious enough, a pair of orange flip flops, commonly used by prisoners, was used as the tree topper. The post angered many local residents and ultimately others in activist groups who are now denouncing it.
“We live in a very volatile time,” said Mobile NAACP chapter president Robert Clopton in a statement. “I mean, the relationships between law enforcement and the general public has been compromised. Not only that, but we are living during a pandemic right now where everyone needs to be focused on the same goal and that is having as many people helping each other or to help navigate through this atrocity that is going on right now.,”
Faith In Action Alabama said in a statement that the post was divisive and promotes the sheriff’s office at the expense of those who have been arrested.
“This type of behavior from law enforcement continues to push the divide between those who have been called to serve and the community that they are supposedly serving,” said the statement “To celebrate so crassly the arrest of those who may have allegedly transgressed against society but still are members of society paints a picture “once a criminal always a criminal” and traffics in racist tropes.”
Some went as far as sending in threats. It was at that point that the MCSO decided to remove the post entirely last Thursday (Dec. 17).
“We have removed our latest post on social media from Thug Thursday. There is no post more important than the lives of our deputies and the work they do in our Community, said MCSO spokesperson Lori Myles in a statement, according to CNN. “The death threats, fire to our building and other negative messages were not from our community, however, if this post jeopardizes the relationship between law enforcement and other communities then we felt it best to remove it.”