Alabama Sheriff Catches Heat For Creating A 'Thug Thursday' Christmas Tree

The Mobile County Sheriff's Department is catching heat for making an irresponsible post on Facebook. Heading into the holiday season, the office posted a Christmas tree with mugshots as ornaments. The post was made as part of the county's ongoing "Thug Thursday" series.

Hours after the post was made, it made the rounds on social media before the Alabama NAACP caught wind of it. Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton called the post "despicable" and the ACLU of Alabama accused the department of utilizing a symbol of holiday cheer to “disparage people with future harm.”

Instead of apologizing for the post, the department doubled down. In a lengthy statement, the sheriff's department said that the message of the post was getting lost by people "out of town."

“The thug tree was to show how many people we have arrested by putting them out there (on social media) and having the community sharing that we were looking for those people in which led to an arrest,” Mobile County Sheriff’s Spokeswoman Lori Myles said.

“It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing in a community that they have taken these career criminals off the streets. We were thanking them and showing the results of Thug Thursday.”

Myles continued to try to defend the social media post by saying that the faces included on the tree were of repeat offenders.

“It’s not their first rodeo,” Myles said.

However, activists in Alabama have pushed back against Myles. In fact, members of the ACLU have pointed out that many people who are arrested in the area are suffering from mental illness.

“The majority of people arrested for crimes struggle with mental illness and substance use issues,” JaTaune Bosby of the Alabama ACLU said.

“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.”

After days of push back from social media users across the map, the department moved to remove the social media post.

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