Apex police officer tells neighbor he was 'appalled' by family Christmas card with Black Lives Matter protest photo

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- An Apex mom, who is also a Wake County Public School System principal, was appalled by the response she got from a neighbor, who happens to be an Apex police officer, over the Christmas card she sent out this year.

Lori Nelson said it was meant to spark joy.

So she was caught off guard by the reaction from the police officer who lives next door.

The reaction was in response to one of the photos on her card. It features 11 family photos and offers a year in review.

There are snapshots from trips to the mountains, beach and Washington D.C. And one of the photos was from a Black Lives Matter protest she took her children to this year, to show them what it means to fight for justice.

But Nelson says an Apex police officer living next door fired off a text message after receiving the holiday greeting.

"I can't believe that someone, a leader in my community, would write that to me," she said. "Most concerning was when he said he would not tolerate this anymore."

The officer allegedly wrote he was "appalled" the image was sent to him and that he "finds it very hard to believe" that an "upper middle class white family living in the suburbs has the slightest clue about the issue outside of what you watch on the news."

The text message also says: "I've tolerated the neighborhood signs that are a slap in my face."

Nelson provided a copy of the text message to ABC11.

Nelson said the neighborhood signs he's referring to are Black Lives Matter posters.

She feels his message highlights a bigger problem.

"There's a cultural issue in our police department. If he felt okay sending a response like that, then that's the culture of his work environment," she said.

Nelson went to police and says administrators were placating her.

"At one point it was 'Mrs. Nelson, are you sure you're just not stressed out by her job? Or have you had a bad interaction with the police before,'" she said.

Apex Police Deputy Chief Mitch McKinney says the department is aware of the incident and stressed there is an internal investigation into the personnel matter.

Nelson is pushing for the police department to initiate a cultural assessment with the hopes of improving relations.

"I hope that as a community we can come together and say 'Hey, we have really great officers trying to do a great job, but we also have an issue and we need to address that,'" she said.

Nelson will be addressing the incident in person at Tuesday's Apex Town Council meeting.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.