CHICAGO (CBS) — Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey was defending his office’s use of a social media meme involving President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama, after some criticized the posts as racist.
The Kankakee County Sheriff’s Facebook and Twitter feeds both feature a meme with a picture of Obama having climbed up the outside of Trump Tower, looking into Trump’s home, while holding binoculars. Trump is inside the home.
The images remind people to lock up by 9 p.m., and report suspicious activity to police. Downey said there’s been a rash of home and car burglaries and that the meme — which features the hashtag #9pmroutine — is supposed to be a catchy way of reminding people to lock up at night.
On Facebook, some comments criticize the sheriff’s office for being racist, unprofessional, offensive and inappropriate. Others say they find it funny.
Downey said the meme featuring Obama and Trump wasn’t designed to do anything but grab attention.
“That’s all the news is reporting. We’re not on the national level when it comes to politics. We’re more on getting people’s attention to lock their doors,” he said.
On Facebook, one person commented that the meme reinforces negative stereotypes by putting out the image of a black man ready to break into a white man’s home, but Downey said it was nothing of the sort.
“If you look at the history of our memes, there’s a lot of those memes that are related to current events, and celebrities, and things like that.” So, no, that’s ridiculous.”
Other memes featuring the #9pmroutine hashtag include a picture of boxer Mike Tyson, with the caption “I THOULDA LOCKED MY HOUTH UP LATH NIGHT! THILLY ME! I FORGOT MY #9PMroutine.”
Others include the #9PMRoutine as a clue on the game show “Jeopardy!” a take on the popular meme of Kermit the Frog sipping tea, with the caption “LOCKING YOUR DOORS & REMOVING YORU VALUABLES WOULD APPEAR TO BE FAIRLY COMMON SNESE BUT HEY, THAT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS. I’M JUST BE ACCUSTOMED TO MY #9PMRoutine.”
Downey said his office has been tweeting nightly memes at 9 p.m. to remind people to lock their doors. They try to pick a memorable one, or something tied to current events, so the message sticks in people’s minds. He said the point he wants to get across, in a catchy way, is that home and car break-ins are crimes of opportunity, and people who lock their doors are much less likely to become victims.
The sheriff pointed to Wednesday’s “International Women’s Day” and how his office tried to inject some humor into the Warrant Wednesday social media posts by including on the “wanted” information, the logo of the show, “Cops: Bad Girls”.
Downey said his office thought the meme of Obama and Trump was a humorous take on the current president’s unsubstantiated allegation that his predecessor tapped his phones during the 2016 election.
A spokesman for Obama has denied the former president had Trump wiretapped.