Alabama Police Apologize After Photo of Officers Mocking Homeless With Cardboard Quilt Sparks Outrage

After a picture of two officers holding a "homeless quilt"—a raft of signs confiscated from arrested homeless persons taped together into a single sheet—went viral, the Mobile Police Department has issued an apology.

"Wanna wish everybody in 4th precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt! Sincerely, Panhandler patrol," the original Facebook post read. It has since been preserved in a screen-capture by Eduardo Romero, which has since been shared over 15,000 times as of press time.

The picture soon made it to Reddit and went viral, with many posters in the thread accusing the Mobile officers of mocking the homeless, and called the post "tasteless" in light of it having been posted during the holiday season.

Imagine taking pride in terrorizing the most vulnerable people in society

Posted by Eduardo Romero on Sunday, December 29, 2019

The two officers in the pictures were identified by AL.com as being Preston McGraw and Alexandre Olivier, both of whom were tagged in the original Facebook post.

AL.com also identified Olivier and McGraw as two recent graduates of the Mobile Police Academy and added that the picture appears to have been taken within a room at the Mobile Police Department offices. There is no word yet of what, if any, punishment the two officers may face for participating in the taking of the picture.

Homelessness
Two Alabama officers are under fire after posing for a picture with a "homeless quilt" - a raft of cardboard signs allegedly confiscated from homeless persons during arrests taped together. Spencer Platt/Getty

Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste has apologized for the incident. When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Mobile Police Department referred Newsweek to a statement already given by Battiste to AL.com.

"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," Battiste said.

Al.com has said that Chief Battiste is a longtime advocate of homeless persons in the Mobile area.

Mobile codified a panhandling law in 2010 that restricts requesting money to areas outside of downtown Mobile, a place popular with tourists called "The Visitors Domain." The law was an attempt to comply with a federal ruling that has deemed full bans of panhandling an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech.

Individuals who panhandle outside of this restricted area may be fined $500 or more, be sentenced to community service, or receive six months in jail.

Alabama Police Apologize After Photo of Officers Mocking Homeless With Cardboard Quilt Sparks Outrage | News