Two police officers have recently come under fire for gifting their captain a 'quilt' made of cardboard signs from homeless individuals.
Police officers across the United States have recently been receiving more flak than usual. With police brutality becoming a mainstay in news headlines, perhaps this comes to no one's surprise. Unfortunately, a couple more of them have added to this reputation. They might have made things a lot worse. Police officers Preston McGraw and Alexandre Olivier, recent graduates of the Mobile Police Academy, took to Facebook in order to post a photo of themselves holding up a 'quilt' of cardboard signs confiscated from homeless individuals. While the post has since been taken down, a citizen was proactive enough to take a screenshot and share it on the same social media platform. The post, now viral, has been harshly condemned, Al.com reports.
The original post read featuring the photo of the two officers read, "Wanna wish everybody in the 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt. Sincerely Panhandler patrol." The homeless quilt, pictured in the image, was made of cardboard signs confiscated from homeless individuals who were punished for panhandling. The signs were stitched together with tape, building a quilt. It was supposedly a gift for their captain. Before the cops could remove the post from their timelines, Facebook user Eduardo Romero took a screenshot and uploaded it to his own profile. He wrote, "Imagine taking pride in terrorizing the most vulnerable people in society."
Needless to say, the post was not received well. Several thousands of users, shocked by officers McGraw and Olivier's insensitive behavior, commented on Romero's screenshot condemning the officers' actions. Joyce Meier, for instance, stated, "They should be freaking fired. *ssholes." Vi P Malixi added, "Sadism. Lack of compassion. Great message, Alabama Police. But just remember, karma can be a beyotch." Some users even called for the police officers to experience severe physical punishment, such as Dean Kirschmann, who suggested, "They should handcuff those cops to a pole outside for 24 hours so they know what it's like to be cold and hungry." Since it was first uploaded on December 30, the post has garnered over 5,500 comments and 4,400 reactions. It has also been shared over 16,000 times.
Of course, this means it reached their department fairly quickly, prompting an official response from Mobile Chief of Police Lawrence Battiste, a longtime advocate for the homeless community in the area. Offering apologies, he affirmed in his statement, "As a police department entrusted with serving and protecting our community, we offer our sincerest apology for the insensitive gesture of a Facebook post by two of our officers where they are holding up a homeless 'quilt' made of panhandling signs. Although we do not condone panhandling and must enforce the city ordinances that limit panhandling, it is never our intent or desire as a police department to make light of those who find themselves in a homeless state. Rather, our position has always been to partner with community service providers to help us help those faced with homelessness with hope to improve their quality of life."
To many, this apology seemed like the police department was only trying to cover up their officers' intolerable behavior. It is unclear if McGraw and Olivier faced any real consequences for their actions. While panhandling is illegal in Mobile, after a controversial law was passed in 2010, this does not warrant the officers' actions. Without a doubt, the officers, who only recently graduated from the academy, should receive corrective punishment to ensure they never exhibit such behavior again. When will the police department step up?