The police department in Mobile, Ala., is apologizing after two officers sparked outrage with an image of them holding up what they called a "homeless quilt."
The picture, posted to Facebook, showed officers Preston McGraw and Alexandre Olivier holding up cardboard signs confiscated from homeless people around the city.
“Wanna wish everybody in 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt! Sincerely, Panhandler patrol,” the Facebook post said.
McGraw and Olivier, two recent graduates of the Mobile Police Academy according to Al.com, were tagged in the post.
Mobile Police apologize for viral photo mocking homeless https://t.co/5El1u3JPC1— News 4 San Antonio (@News4SA) December 30, 2019
The image quickly went viral in recent days, with people accusing the officers of mocking the homeless. A thread on Reddit highlighting the post was titled "Alabama Police department flaunting all the homeless people they've arrested."
Mobile Chief of Police Lawrence Battiste apologized on behalf of the department.
“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," Battiste said in the statement according to reports.
"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,” Battiste added.
A Facebook post criticizing the photo has been shared approximately 15,000 times.
Updated at 3:16 p.m.