An image posted to social media by the Irvine Police Department, meant to bring awareness to sober driving on Cinco De Mayo, resulted in major backlash from the community on Thursday, May 5, after hundreds of social media users called the post racially motivated. 

The caption to the original post read, “If you plan to enjoy some drinks on Cinco De Mayo, please make sure you arrange a ride home. Nobody wants their ‘good times’ to end with an arrest.”

The backlash led to the Irvine Police Department issuing an apology on Friday, May 6. However, both the original post and the apology were deleted from social media shortly after.  

The original post was a picture of a man in handcuffs, with the phrase, “Happy Cinco De Mayo” on top, along with “Fiesta Time, Not Jail Time!” on the bottom of the image. The text was also colored to depict the Mexican flag. 

Prior to being removed, the Irvine Police Department wrote the following statement via social media.

“We have been reading the many negative comments on this post and we want to apologize. Although this post was intended to bring awareness to safe driving, we failed to recognize the offensive nature of the graphic used,” IPD wrote. “The Irvine Police Department is committed to protecting our diverse community and we appreciate the feedback. We will be removing this post and we promise to do better in the future.”

After the post was removed, Irvine Weekly spoke with IPD Sergeant Karie Davies, who explained the post was archived approximately five to seven minutes after the apology had been issued. She added that the department wanted to acknowledge the requests of the community to have the post removed.