The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office today responded to discussion concerning an image posted on its Facebook page last week of a registered sex offender holding a cake that appears to say “All Lives Matter.”
The original post is dated July 14 and shows Chris Pannell of Bedford giving the cake to the sheriff’s office. According to the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, Parnell’s date of conviction was Jan. 4, 2008, in Bedford Circuit Court under the aggravated sexual battery statute.
The original post reads (in italic):
Sheriff Miller and the men and women of the BCSO would like to thank The Patterson Family for the food donation yesterday that fed the employees. The barbecue, slaw, and brownies were delicious. We also appreciated the prayer that was give to us by this family.
Additionally, Chris Parnell came by yesterday with a cake showing his support for law enforcement. Who doesn't love a good cake??
We understand that there is a vast majority of citizens in Bedford that support and appreciate the hard work done by the dedicated men and women of the Sheriff’s Office. Thank you for your outpouring of support, we enjoy hearing positive comments from our community.
As of Tuesday night, the original post received hundred of likes and more than a hundred comments, mostly positive.
However, there were several comments visible that called out the sheriff’s office with remarks such as “So the people who swore to serve and protect have a registered sex offender holding an ‘All Lives Matter’ cake,” and, “This seems like the police are purposely doing this to rile up the community. Why would they post something like this during such a heated time in a long awaited, continued movement?”
In response to multiple comments about the photo, the sheriff’s office posted the following response today (in italic):
There has been much discussion on our Facebook page about a post from last week. The photo shows a member of our community donating a cake to the Sheriff’s Office. Although many appreciated this citizen's actions, others questioned his motives and bring up his past.
The Sheriff’s Office appreciates all our citizens. We further believe that even those with a prior criminal history should have the opportunity to turn their life around and fix the errors of their ways after their debt to society is paid.
The photo from last week reflects our relationship with the citizens of Bedford County, a relationship of mutual respect. We respect our citizens and understand that, just as individuals can make mistakes, they can also become contributing members of society. We appreciate the friendly gesture by Mr. Pannell and his attempt to build bridges during this difficult time for many members of our nation. The posting of this photo was meant as nothing more as a word of thanks for that effort. We apologize to anyone that may have misconstrued Mr. Pannell's actions or the actions of BCSO by posting it.
This isn’t the first time that a local sheriff’s office posted an “All Lives Matter” message that received backlash. The phrase is often used as a response to “Black Lives Matter,” in which opponents say the “All Lives Matter” phrase ignores the issues that the black community are facing.
A sheriff’s office in the area recently posted an image of a black person’s hand and white person’s hand crossed with pinkies locked and the words “All Lives Matter” below.
The sheriff’s office posted a follow-up post after receiving backlash in comments and explained that a volunteer had posted the image over a weekend and will have additional training about posting sensitive subjects.
The Smith Mountain Eagle had seen this post but cannot verify if it came from the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page as it is not visible on the page.