Posted on August 23, 2007

Black Leaders Demand Apology For Editorial Cartoon

WKMG-TV (Jacksonville, Florida), August 22, 2007

An editorial cartoon in last Friday’s Florida Times-Union depicting a gunman wearing a T-shirt saying “Don’t Snitch” continues to draw criticism, with some black leaders calling for an apology, the firing of the cartoonist and other demands, according to a WJXT-TV report in Jacksonville.


In a letter sent to all Jacksonville television stations as well as the newspaper, the Jacksonville Leadership Coalition called the cartoon “racist, culturally insensitive and degrading to African-American women.”

In addition to the apology, the group also called for the firing of cartoonist Ed Gamble, the hiring of a person of African-American descent for the newspaper’s editorial board and a meeting with black leaders to “resolve the issue,” WJXT-TV reported.

The letter quotes the Rev. Rudolph McKissick Jr., who described the cartoon as “insensitive to African American women, children and the community.”


Dr. Juan Gray, chairman of the board of the SCLC’s Jacksonville chapter, called for the Times-Union to apologize for its poor judgment.

“After the apology, we can move toward reconciliation.

The letter was signed by Richard Burton, national board member of the NAACP, Desmond Muhammad, president of the Jacksonville branch of the SCLC, Marcus Muhammad of the National of Islam and Edward Preston, president of the Jacksonville Leadership Coalition.

Some readers were shocked and angered by a Friday editorial page cartoon depicting a black man with a smoking gun in his hand standing over a bullet-riddled victim.


The cartoon carried a caption: “The new rule of Law!” A billboard in the background depicted more black characters under lyrics, “Rap your life away.”

Expressions of outrage came quickly, including from the local president of the NAACP.


It was wrong to suggest that the growing “Don’t snitch” phenomenon is limited to the African-American community and use of the terms “ho” and “nuttin’” were over the top, according to Anderson. Phyllis Hall said everything about the cartoon was offensive.


She wanted to know who was responsible for allowing the cartoon to get into the newspaper.

Mike Clark, the editorial page editor, reviewed and approved the cartoon by longtime Times-Union cartoonist Ed Gamble.

“Using the word ‘ho’ was bad judgment, and I regret that I did not edit it out,’ ” Clark said.

The cartoon came after police assertions that a “Don’t snitch” culture has impeded efforts to solve crimes in Jacksonville. A CBS 60 Minutes segment last Sunday focused on the growing problem, especially in inner-city neighborhoods, and how some rap artists have encouraged it.


Gamble conceded that the term “ho” is demeaning to women, but added, “I was making a point that rappers are demeaning to women.”

He is troubled by the influences of such things as offensive rap lyrics, drugs and no-snitch messages, Gamble said, and his commentary is meant to focus on those issues.

Among the outraged was Juan Gray, chairman of the Jacksonville chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


The NAACP’s Isaiah Rumlin’s objections focused on stereotyping and use of the offensive term, but he said the subjects of no-snitching and rap lyrics are fair game for commentary.


Rumlin also raised the question of how many people of color are on the newspaper’s staff, asserting the cartoon may have been handled differently if the newsroom were more diverse.


“If an African-American had seen that before it was printed, it would not have been printed,” Rumlin said.