OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The Oakland Police Department issued an apology after an insensitive community message about drunk driving on Cinco de Mayo.
The police department’s original message – titled “Cinco de Mayo: Fiesta Time or Jail Time?” – said the celebration had become synonymous with “festive fiestas” and “salty margaritas” which could be a “recipe for disaster.”
“So before your first margarita, cold beer, or shot of tequila this Cinco de Mayo, make sure you have a designated sober driver or arranged another safe way home,” the press release advised.
Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo says the police department’s warning about the dangers of drinking and driving during Cinco de Mayo twisted the holiday’s rich cultural history into a caricature.
“I don’t drink and drive. If you ask the majority of people who are Latino or Mexican-American, we don’t drink and drive,” Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo told KPIX 5.
The department quickly backtracked, issuing the following apology:
“The Oakland Police Department would like to apologize for the recent press release addressing traffic safety enforcement during the Cinco de Mayo holiday. We acknowledge that the language in the message sent was completely insensitive to the cultural holiday. We have worked extensively to build trust with all our communities and value the amazing cultures that make up the heart of our City. We are taking appropriate steps to insure that this does not happen again. Our intentions were to raise awareness about drunk driving and notify the community of traffic safety during the important holiday. As for every holiday and celebration, we want to remind everyone to celebrate responsibly and safely.”
“It’s just really hard to believe that someone of color wasn’t in the room when they were planning and discussing this. It’s just really baffling,” student Anais Pacheco said.
Critics say message was insulting, and the warning about drinking and driving was largely lost in translation.
“It’s not the first time a police force has done something that’s not the most culturally sensitive. But, I would think that a place like Oakland that their police officers would know better,” student Kyndall Sillanpaa said.