Texas resident Rachel Ali is learning her lesson the hard way after she was fired from her job as a server at Kingwood's Los Cucos restaurant after posting a now-viral photo of herself flipping off a Harris County Sheriff’s patrol car.
"It was a stupid decision to put it on social media," Ali said of the photo, which has been shared thousands of times. "I regret posting it where people could see it. It was careless, but it was harmless."
The photo caught the attention of several pro-law enforcement groups and several former police officers, and they quickly started making their opinions known on the restaurant's Facebook page.
"I was a Sergeant with Houston PD and worked in Kingwood for many years. It is really disturbing to me that a FB post identifies Rachel Ali as one of your employees and she is disrespecting law enforcement in front of your restaurant," Chris Jones wrote in a review on the Los Cucos page. "I know you can't anticipate what employees will do, but you can send a clear message that you don't condone it. I think you need to."
Ali's photo didn't go over well with the Harris County Fraternal Order of Police, either. "They're disgusted, especially by seeing this happen so close to home," organization president Tom Moore told KHOU-TV.
"I think she's going to learn from her actions that's there's consequences and they're not all good," he continued. "She needs to be unemployable in the service industry."
With the torrent of criticism flowing in over photo, which was first noticed last month, it didn't take long for Los Cucos management to take action. By 11 a.m. Monday, Ali was fired. But now the former server is on clean-up duty.
"I've always treated [the police] with respect," she insisted in an interview with KHOU. "That couldn't be further from the truth, as far as hating cops."
Ali said the photo was actually taken in May, several months before she started her job at Los Cucos. In another picture taken at the same time, she is seen waving a peace sign at the same patrol car.
"I'm not a bad person at all," Ali said. "I'm sorry people are taking it the wrong way." She added, "It's definitely ridiculous and completely blown way out of proportion."