- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2023

A donation of pizzas to a Texas police department triggered an online backlash that caused the cops to “take a knee” instead, the firm offering the gift said Tuesday.

Last Thursday, Patriot Mobile, a wireless phone company headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, that calls itself “America’s only Christian conservative wireless provider,” presented a $1,500 gift certificate to the city’s cops, a move the department initially lauded on social media.

“Sincere thanks to our friends at Patriot Mobile,” a Twitter post from the department read. “We are blessed to have their support and encouragement. Today they presented us with a certificate to host a pizza party for our staff. We are grateful for the opportunity to have a fun and relaxing meal together as a team.”

Not everyone is a fan of the company, however. A Dallas Morning News report said the mobile firm “has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars” backing conservative school board candidates in Tarrant County, where Grapevine is located. The newspaper said that the 11 candidates supported by the firm’s political action committee won contests in four area school districts.

The company’s high profile in the area may have drawn attention to the pizza gift, which the firm said it purchased for $2,575 at a charity auction. To date, the police department’s original post has garnered 493,600 views and dozens of comments, many of which were negative.

“This is a bad look for grapevine PD and all of grapevine,” wrote a person who identified himself as Rusty Shackleford. “This sends a message about how you really feel about bigotry and hatred. Don’t you want your citizenry to feel protected? This org does not put that message forward.”

Some supported the gesture. Stacy Lillis wrote she resides in Grapevine and approved of the gift.

“I live here and am grateful for the generosity of local businesses supporting our police,” said Ms. Lillis, an events manager for pro-life group LiveAction.

Following the comments, the department said on Facebook that while “[w]e do not question a donor’s beliefs, we simply express our gratitude. In this case, however, the donation brought out deep emotion.”

Instead of sharing the pizzas with its officers, the statement said, the department would “donate the food to a true need,” and said “we want something positive to come from this experience.”

In a statement, Patriot Mobile said if the Grapevine cops don’t want the certificate, the department should give it to “another police department in North Texas.”

Glenn Story, the firm’s CEO, said Patriot Mobile “embrace[s] the term Christian Nationalist. We love our country and we love the Lord and we strive to be light in the darkness.”

Neither the Grapevine PD nor Patriot Mobile responded to repeated requests for comment from The Washington Times.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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