Amarillo Globe News and Lubbock AJ apologize for controversial editorial cartoon

On Sunday morning, the Amarillo Globe News and Lubbock Avalanche Journal both apologized for a controversial editorial cartoon published in both newspapers this past week. The apology comes after public uproar over the cartoon and a call by local and state national law enforcement for an advertising boycott against the Gatehouse owned newspapers.

"Amarillo Globe-News published an editorial cartoon this past Monday - a cartoon which deserves an apology.

"The editorial cartoon caused anger and hurt for many in the community, including the law enforcement community - and for that we are regretful.

"We apologize for publishing the editorial cartoon, and we regret that the cartoon does not depict the support for law enforcement that the AGN considers vital and important.

"Again - the AGN apologizes," the AGN posted on its website.

The Lubbock AJ posted the exact apology on its website.

On Thursday, the local police association President and the state’s largest law enforcement union called for an advertising boycott of the Globe News and AJ. The controversy began after a political cartoon depicting a police officer shooting an African American child in the back was published in the newspapers this past Monday.

“Just another undeserved liberal media attack on police officers,” said Norm Fisher, President of the Amarillo Police Officers Association and a Regional Director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT.

“We intend to push back against this kind of cookie cutter media garbage that fosters resentment and anger towards police officers in Texas. I’m calling for business leaders all across the High Plains of Texas to pull their advertising out of the two largest daily newspapers until they apologize for these unprovoked attacks on law enforcement.

“Law enforcement officers, their families and neighbors are asking area Chambers of Commerce, local businesses, national corporations and local political subdivisions to cease all newspaper and print advertising,” Fisher said.

CLEAT President SGT. Todd Harrison, an Austin police officer said his organization supported the advertising boycott and indicated further union action should include refusal by rank and file officers to share news tips or assist reporters in gathering of police department news.

“This is going to take more than a lame letter to the editor- - the same editor who chose to run that cartoon. We need to begin the process of hitting those newspapers right in the pocket book
where it hurts.

“Texas has lost the largest number of law enforcement officers to in the line of duty deaths as any state in the country. Tthis kind of hate mongering could cause someone to murder another Texas cop," Harrison said.

Earlier in the week, the Globe-News and AJ published an editorial defending the publication of the cartoon, stating that editorial cartoons reflect the viewpoint of the author or creator, and not the two newspapers.

"It is true that a picture can be worth a thousand words - an editorial cartoon, maybe even more than a thousand.

"The editorial cartoon which was published Monday on the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Amarillo Globe-News Opinion pages is a prime example of the truth behind the aforementioned saying.

"Considering some of the public response to the cartoon, which was done by Rob Rogers of Andrews McMeel Syndicate - the same publishing source as syndicated columnist Ann Coulter, it is worth explaining the rationale behind the A-J/AGN’s selection of the cartoon.

"The aforementioned cartoon attempted to depict the former situation on the U.S. southern border regarding the federal government’s “zero tolerance policy” and police brutality. (The caption states, “Meanwhile, far from the border ... children are being separated from their families,” along with a law enforcement officer pointing a gun at an African-American youth.) Is this an extreme comparison? Yes. Do we agree with this comparison? No, because the former “zero tolerance” policy was a government policy, while actions that constitute police brutality are not condoned by government. The cartoon represents an invalid comparison, but many editorial cartoons make invalid comparisons, exaggerate the truth and portray presidents as gross caricatures of who they really are. This is what editorial cartoons do.

"It needs to be said that the comparison depicted by the cartoon (a “zero tolerance” immigration policy to police brutality) can be interpreted differently. For example, African-Americans may see the cartoon’s comparison in a completely different light - and this needs to be understood.

"The cartoon is not an attempt to disparage all law enforcement, much less first-responders. Law enforcement officers are human beings. We hold the belief that the vast majority of law enforcement officers strive to enforce the law and to protect the public. This is a belief we strongly hold - and for good reason. And this editorial cartoon in no way changes that. When law enforcement deserves criticism, we will provide criticism. When law enforcement deserves credit for the sometimes-thankless job it does, we will be the first to offer praise. This editorial cartoon in no way changes this policy.

"To make a long editorial short, Monday’s editorial cartoon made an extreme comparison with which we do not agree. But what is more important than agreement is to provide an outlet which presents differing viewpoints and opinions. This freedom of thought and opinion is invaluable and priceless in a true republic," the Globe News and AJ stated in the editorial.

The Texas Municipal Police Association also condemed the two newspapers for publishing the controversial cartoon.

"TMPA is appalled at the irresponsible editorial cartoon that the Amarillo Globe-News and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal both chose to publish yesterday.

"As the Voice of Texas Law Enforcement, and on behalf of the more than 27,000 officers we represent, we felt compelled to offer the following statement to these outlets, as well as request an apology for the first responders who are tasked with establishing peace and maintaining the safety of ALL of our communities.

"Law enforcement officers have grown accustomed to the false narratives about police shootings from national media outlets like MSNBC, NPR and the New York Times. Even though it was an editorial cartoon, we never thought we would see this kind of dishonest, irresponsible and inflammatory nonsense from the Amarillo Globe-News.

"I understand you followed up the publishing of the cartoon with an article explaining the reasons you chose to publish it. Forgive me for being blunt but you spent over 600 words trying to defend the indefensible.

"This kind of despicable narrative portrayed in the cartoon (a police officer shooting an African-American man in the back) has made the job of law enforcement officers more difficult, as they inflame tensions without regard to facts.

"The myth of “hands up, don’t shoot,” which was a fundamental mischaracterization of a justified police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, created racial tension and hampered police interaction with minority communities.

"We saw tragedy in Dallas when a sniper specifically targeted and murdered police officers. Certainly media hysteria and misinformation contributed to the sick thoughts of this deranged killer. Yet, while our country has rallied behind the men and women in blue following this tragedy, the Amarillo Globe-News seems determined to instead promote hatred of the very people who protect your families.

"The Texas Municipal Police Association is the largest police association in Texas representing more than 27,000 law enforcement officers. Your editorial cartoon puts the lives of these officers at risk by adding fuel to the fire of a false narrative about the use of force against African Americans.

"The first amendment gives you the right to publish the unconscionable cartoon. But because you have the right to do it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. You owe an apology to the men and women who risk their lives every day to keep you safe," TMPA Executive Director Kevin Lawrence said.

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