The short Facebook post seemed harmless.
The Grapevine Police Department thanked the local company for throwing a pizza party for its employees, adding that it was “a blessing to have their support and encouragement.”
But the gift, made by Christian conservative mobile phone company Patriot Mobile, sparked outrage on social media, with people urging the department to return it.
On Saturday, Grapevine police said they would not accept a Cane Rosso gift certificate and would instead donate it to an organization in need. The amount of the certificate was not immediately clear.
“We are not questioning the donor’s beliefs, we are simply expressing our gratitude,” the agency wrote in a follow-up message. “However, in this case, the donation triggered deep emotions.”
Patriot Mobile, which describes itself as “America’s only Christian conservative wireless provider,” has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting like-minded candidates in recent Tarrant County School Board races.
Last spring, the company’s political action committee sent out thousands of political mailings accusing current school board members of endangering students with their critical race theory and other “awakening” ideas about gender and race.
All 11 Patriot Mobile-supported candidates won their races in four school districts: Grapevine-Collyville, Southlake, Keller and Mansfield.
“If we lose Tarrant County, we lose Texas,” said Jenny Storey, COO of Patriot Mobile. New York Times. “If we lose Texas, we lose the country.”
But some accuse the Grapevine company of driving a wedge in communities and once sleepy school boards. And over the weekend, many expressed disappointment with the police department for accepting the gift in the first place.
“Why do you think it is appropriate to partner with a group like Patriot Mobile,” wrote Grapevine resident Jane Boyd. “I am completely shocked. Bad look for Grapevine police. Here’s an honest and fair police force.”
However, some said that the Grapevine police should have accepted the pizza and that the organization’s politics shouldn’t matter.
“Pretty limp,” wrote one person. “How sad that a simple act of kindness is so misinterpreted.”
On Sunday, Patriot Mobile did not respond to a request for comment.
In a post, Grapevine Police said it is reviewing its policy on how it receives donations.
“Our community deserves to be heard and we want you to know that we are listening,” the department wrote. “Please know that our actions were not intended to create mistrust and we promise to do better in the future.”