Homelessness

Meet 2 Alabama Cops Proud of Seizing Panhandlers' Signs at Christmas

Peace on earth and good will toward men?

|

It's not the giving season for two police officers in Mobile, Alabama, who have gone viral thanks to a photo of the pair holding a "quilt" they made from cardboard signs confiscated from panhandlers in the city.

A Facebook post of an image apparently taken inside a Mobile Police Department office shows the two officers, identified by AL.com as Preston McGraw and Alexandre Olivier, standing and smiling with the patchwork of cardboard signs begging for money or other help. Above the image, the Facebook text (it appears as though it was posted by McGraw) reads, "Wanna wish everybody in 4th Precinct a Merry Christmas, especially our captain. Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt."

Lawrence Battiste, the chief of police in Mobile, apologized for the post, AL.com reports:

"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," said Chief Battiste. "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."

Citywide bans on panhandling are an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment rights of beggars, but Mobile has a more specific law that bans the practice only in the downtown area. Those who violate the law can face a fine up to $500 and up to six months in jail.

NEXT: A 'Good Guy With a Gun' Prevented a Texas Church Shooting From Becoming a Massacre

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. At least it wasn’t a coat made from the skins of dead puppies.

  2. No sympathy for bums, but no point in this kind of stunt.

    1. Even bums have 1st Amendment rights (subject, someone will hasten to add, to reasonable time/place/manner restrictions – maybe keeping them out of downtown is one such restriction, I don’t know).

      1. Perhaps some of them are Cynic philosophers –

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism_(philosophy)

    2. You a sociopath?

    1. Bovem de stercore

  3. Sub-literate retards.

    1. Their mothers must be so proud.

    2. Please don’t insult retards by comparing them to these two cops.

    3. that’s spelled D I X…dicks!

  4. It wasn’t an “insensitive gesture” and while it might not be the department’s intent “to make light of those who find themselves in a homeless state”, I’m pretty sure those two cops are the sort who delight in torturing helpless animals. If they weren’t cops I’m sure they’d find a suitable profession.

  5. So these cops are going to give just compensation to the homeless people they “confiscated” the personal property from?

    Amendment V
    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    1. Not sure the facebook post counts as ‘public use’.

    2. No, because you’re pretty much the only person who takes any of the constitution literally.

  6. Some people aren’t just assholes, they revel in it.

    I can understand the necessity of the panhandling patrol. I can accept the necessity of rousting rough sleepers and beggers.

    I can’t understand being *proud* of doing it.

  7. Those who violate the law can face a fine up to $500 and up to six months in jail.

    Cool. So the city can pay for six months in jail but like everywhere else where homelessness is illegal can’t figure out a cheaper form of housing.

    1. $700k to build one tiny house in CA. Better?

  8. That headline was grossly irresponsible without knowing the whole story. Are they proud? We don’t know. Maybe they don’t like enforcing that particular law and want to give it some publicity — we don’t know. But it is the law.

    Notice how all the signs are very similar, with very similar lettering and similar wording? Maybe they are amazed at how many times they have to police one particularly persistent panhandler and confiscated the signs to make it that much more difficult for the person to continue breaking the law.

    Painting law enforcement as The Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge as your default stance, simply because you came across an eye-catching photo, seems a little mean spirited “at Christmas.”

    1. Nice troll attempt.

    2. Techy McFly says, “But it is the law.”

      So was returning runaway slaves at one time. As a slave to the state, you must be glad about that.

      “Maybe they don’t like enforcing that particular law and want to give it some publicity — we don’t know.”

      The shit eating grins makes it clear Them like enforcing that particular law with gusto.

      “Maybe they are amazed at how many times they have to police ONE particularly persistent panhandler…”

      Pretty sure a single panhandler that persistent would not have been free long enough to make that many attempts.

      “Notice how all the signs are very similar, with very similar lettering and similar wording?”

      Not really but I don’t have your imagination or eye for detail. Perhaps there is a Mobile homeless sign industry which is now about to get a revenue boost after these confiscations and those cops are getting a piece of the action. Those signs will probably disappear from the evidence room and be back on the street generating more money for those cops and the city.

      1. So was returning runaway slaves at one time.

        Used to be that the very desire of slaves to run away was deemed a mental illness called drapetomania. And 50 years after the Civil War, it was still deemed a mental illness and associated with ‘dromomania’ and vagabondage. And looks like plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    3. The chief thought it was mean-spirited and he apologized on behalf of his department for that. Maybe that was easier than trying to explain the nuanced meaning of the picture, or firing the two assholes pictured (like he probably should do, if he wants to maintain a plausible image of ‘serve and protect’).

  9. “Citywide bans on panhandling are an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment rights of beggars, but Mobile has a more specific law that bans the practice only in the downtown area.”

    A loophole for cops to get behind.

  10. “Serve and protect”
    /old motto
    “We kick you when you’re down”!
    /New motto

  11. what a couple of douchebags. They look like the type that when they were in school thought it was funny to stuff smaller, geekier kids into their lockers or dunk their heads in the toilet.

    1. d-bags doesn’t quite go far enough, may i suggest giant leaking ostomy bags. shame on them.

  12. good news alabama, ALL other crimes have been solved and it was a slow crime day so they were able to take care of that quilt they were so proud of. those fucking morons posted their own evidence of their own retardedness…this wasn’t someone else shaming them this was them SHAMELESS-ING themselves.

    if you’re reading this fellas…YOU’RE BOTH ASSHOLES AND STUPID ONES AS WELL. that’s the worst kind of assholes. give ’em a gun and some police immunity and what else might go wrong.

  13. Cops must exist in this insulated testosterone-heavy brah culture except with guns and legal authority. There is no neurosurgeon who ever considered becoming a cop.

  14. “Citywide bans on panhandling are an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment rights of beggars”

    Why? Cities have wide latitude in determining what type of behaviors are legal in a jurisdiction.

    1. If the bums have the “First Amendment right” to beg, shouldn’t the cops have the “First Amendment right” to be critical of begging? Especially since it’s illegal and overwhelmingly done by people that either beg for a living and evade taxes, are alcoholics or drug addicts.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.