Many locals are responding to a viral image of Mobile police officers seemingly mocking the homeless by trying to help some of the Port City’s most vulnerable and the organizations that support them.
As Lagniappe reported, two officers from the Mobile Police Department drew national criticism this week for a social media post that showed them holding a self-described “homeless quilt” made from signs confiscated from arrested panhandlers — some of which said things like “hungry and homeless.”
Part of the post’s caption read “Hope you enjoy our homeless quilt. Sincerely, Panhandler patrol.”
The reaction online was swift, as commenters from around the country bombarded MPD’s Facebook page. Many directed their outrage toward the entire department as well as the city itself, despite prompt apologies that were issued by MPD Chief Lawrance Battiste and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
The negative light the sudden national attention cast on Mobile was not lost on locals — many of whom expressed similar frustrations about the officers’ original post. Since then, some have been organizing ways to raise money and get necessities to those battling homelessness in the local community.
One group, Quilts for Mobile, popped up almost immediately after the offending post began to go viral nationally Monday afternoon. On Facebook, organizers wrote that they were “ashamed” of the officers’ actions and wanted to organize a quilt drive to turn the incident into something positive.
The group is currently collecting donated quilts, blankets and jackets as well as unused socks, underwear and toiletries for the homeless in Mobile. They’ve organized drop-off locations at several local businesses and organizations, and are asking others to register to serve as drop-off locations as well.
Any interested businesses can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The current locations are listed below:
Local musician and artist Abraham Partridge also felt compelled to respond to the controversy with a piece of art that quickly generated a lot of interest online. The painting, which is done in Partridge’s signature style, recreates the image of the officers and their “homeless quilt,” but with a few changes.
The word “shame” is seen above each officer’s head and scrawled near the bottom of the frame is a reference to Matthew 8:20, which says: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Though he was upset by the post, Partridge said his painting isn’t “anti-police.”
“I paint. I paint pretty stuff and ugly stuff. [This] was horrible and ugly and I couldn’t resist painting it” Patridge wrote. “I’ve never been homeless, but I have been poor — just a broken leg or a car accident from not being able to afford housing. I can only imagine the horrors that these people face.”
Partridge said he plans to sell the painting to the highest bidder and give the proceeds to the local homeless shelter, McKemie Place. Because of the response, he is also working to make prints, which he will sell signed copies of to raise money for the same cause.
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