Apparently, law enforcement officers in Mobile, Ala., don’t know how to read a room. Or at least that seems to be the case for deputies with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, whose idea of lighthearted holiday humor was to post online a photo of a Christmas tree decorated with mugshots as ornaments and prison slippers at the top where a decorative star would usually go.
According to CNN, the photo which was posted to the department’s Facebook page Thursday was digitally altered; so at the very least, we can rest assured that officers with the MCSO aren’t actually sitting around their shrine of humans they locked up with a cup of hot cocoa talking about yule tidings and shit. Still, it’s clear these cops weren’t prepared for a world where not everyone believes being in jail automatically makes a person worthy of ridicule—especially when that ridicule is coming from cops at a time where there is a national discussion around systemic issues in policing.
“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!” the post was captioned in part. (The caption also featured a couple of paragraphs of cop satire that no one thinks is funny except for cops and “back the blue” boot-lickers.)
Predictably (to everyone but the out-of-touch sheriff’s office), activist groups across Alabama weren’t having it.
“This is inappropriate, shameful, disrespectful, despicable, disgusting and embarrassing to the citizens of Mobile County,” Mobile County’s NAACP chapter President Robert Clopton said in a statement Friday. “We live in a very volatile time...I mean, the relationships between law enforcement and the general public has been compromised.”
“We cannot tolerate, accept, nor pardon the actions of those members of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office who took part in this deplorable act,” said Faith in Action Alabama. “We call on Sheriff Cochran to denounce these actions, impose disciplinary actions on those involved, and mandate cultural sensitivity training for the entire department. We expect this to be done in the next 72 hours.”
Executive Director of the ACLU of Alabama JaTaune Bosby said, “The majority of people arrested for crimes struggle with mental illness and substance use issues. They need the community’s assistance and care, not open scorn from leaders.”
The sheriff’s office eventually removed the post and released a whiny-ass statement about receiving “death threats” and making officers out to be the victims in all of this. (They could have just put “I was in fear for my life” on their official holiday greeting card and called it a day, but whatever.)
“We have removed our latest post on social media from Thug Thursday,” MCSO spokesperson Lori Myles said in the statement, CNN reports. “There is no post more important than the lives of our deputies and the work they do in our Community. 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.”
Wait, the MCSO has a thing called “Thug Thursday?” What—and I can not stress this enough—the fuck?
Again, some people really need to learn how to read a room.