An Alabama sheriff’s office deleted a photo of a Christmas tree featuring actual mugshots from social media after receiving critical messages from offended members of the public.
The controversial image surfaced on the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page on Thursday, Dec. 3, NBC News reported. The picture showed a tree decorated with string lights and more than 30 mugshots of people detained by sheriff’s deputies. A pair of orange slides served as the tree’s topper.
“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 picture’s caption read.
AL.com reports the post was part of “Thug Thursdays,” a preexisting social media campaign created by the MCSO’s marketing team to locate suspects with active warrants for their arrest.
The picture and the use of the word “thug” did not go over well, and after days of controversy, it was removed on Saturday.
“There is no post more important than the lives of our deputies and the work they do in our community,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement. “However, if this post jeopardizes the relationship between law enforcement and other communities then we felt it best to remove it.”
The deletion did not stop critics from expressing their disapproval of the tree and the department’s use of the word “thug.”
“Y’all are trash. We see your ‘thug tree’ didn’t go as planned and was dirty deleted,” wrote one commenter.
“Why should we help? so you can put his face on your Christmas tree? Maybe help them instead of mock them,” suggested another person under a post looking for a robbery suspect.
MCSO spokeswoman Lori Myles told AL.com the social media campaign will be rebranded as “Warrant Wednesdays.”
“We have a 95 percent arrest (success) after we put these people’s (mugshots) out there,” Myles said. “They turn themselves in, their families call us and turn them in or another drug dealer who is his or her competition (will contact the Sheriff’s Department). Why would you quit something (that is successful)?”
Myles claims the mugshots were added to the tree using Photoshop and there isn’t an actual tree in the office.