Alabama law enforcement faced backlash from the community following a social media post that showcased a Christmas tree embellished with ornaments that have mugshots on it.
The Mobile County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office published a photo of the Christmas tree on their Team Facebook page for “Thug Thursday,” according to WKRG-TV. The caption of the post, which has now been removed, said the tree was “decorated” with “THUGSHOTS” referring to the individuals that were arrested in 2020.
“Throughout the month of December, we are offering ALL MOBILE COUNTY THUGS a special Christmas offer. Come to 510 South Royal Street and you will get to pick out one item from our property room! That’s right…any of the things that your friend THUGS have stolen will be available for you!” the post read.
The caption also said the individual will get accompanied to a jail facility by a “personal concierge” who is actually a correction officer and then get tested for coronavirus upon arrival. “If you pass your test, then your concierge will take you for a ‘custom fitting’ to receive your Holiday Jumpsuit with matching ‘flap flops,'” the post said, according to the news station.
However, community leaders like JaTaune Bosby, executive director of ACLU of Alabama, did not find humor in the Christmas tree and called out the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office for their post.
“The majority of people arrested for crimes struggle with mental illness and substance use issues,” Bosby told AL.com “They need the community’s assistance and care, not open scorn from leaders. We hope the Sheriff and his employees hear the resounding disdain their actions have brought and realize this type of divisive and cruel messaging does not serve the community.”
A spokesperson of the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, Lori Myles, told AL.com that the mugshot images on the Christmas tree are photoshopped and are not actually placed on a real tree. Myles also told the outlet that the “Thug Thursday” is posted to ask the community for help in finding wanted individuals.
As AL.com’s reported the post received thousands of comments of people disapproving the post. Myles told Insider that the viral post was deleted from Facebook after deputies received threats from people who do not live in the county.
“We have removed the post because of all of the threatening messages that we have received. Death to our deputies and setting fire to our building. None of these threats were from our area or followers. This post was to show how successful law enforcement, the community, and social media helps to solve crimes,” Myles told Insider in a statement on Saturday.
“Mugshots are public information and all of these were people that we were looking for with warrants,” the statement continued. “Most of these knew we were looking for them and were hiding or running from us. When we put their information on our Facebook they either turned themselves in or a family member called to let us know where they were. ”
*story by The Insider