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Mixed feelings over a Santa Claus picture on South Bend’s FOP page

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 11:36 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - There are mixed feelings about a picture of Santa Claus that was posted on the South Bend FOP Lodge 36 Facebook page.

On December 28, 2020, they wrote a message saying in part, “We did it South Bend! THANK YOU! The FOP #36, along with the South Bend Police Department, were able to assist 184 children in over 65 families through our Santa’s Elficers program.”

On the bottom of that post are pictures, including one of Santa.

South Bend’s Black Lives Matter and Councilwoman Lori Hamann said they think the picture is inappropriate, especially in this political climate.

“This is about the perception. This is not about the image...In 2017, a group of what are classified as White Supremacists started using that okay symbol as a sign of white supremacy. So it’s not always meant that,” said Hamann.

Due to scheduling conflicts the FOP could not talk to 16 News Now on camera, but in a recent post they said in part: “A simple Google search of ‘cool Santa Claus’ will bring up the image that was used...It was not meant to be offensive, but more of a ‘Santa approval’ because we assisted over 180 children within our community this year...”

After seeing the written post, Hamann reached out to other city officials.

“Got ahold of the Mayor, Chief Ruszkowski, President White of the South Bend Common Council. I also stated that this had the potential to move the city in the wrong direction as we are trying to heal.”

Hamann said she is upset that her name was mentioned in the post.

“One of those three people intentionally, knowingly and carelessly shared my name with the FOP group so that I could be smeared on Facebook...How did the FOP get my name? And when I brought that up to Mayor Mueller, he made it very clear to me, that when I reach out to him with city business or to the chief, I have no right to presume confidentially at all, which is extremely surprising to me,” Hamann said.

In a text message, Mueller’s administration said, “She raised the issue to the administration and the administration reached out to FOP leadership to convey her concerns and discuss it with them.”

Hamann said this has caused emotional distress.

South Bend’s FOP said, “It is unfortunate that BLM South Bend wants to continue creating a divide within our community and turn something positive into an untrue accusation.”

FOP members said they hope 2021 is a year of unity.

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