A Delaware newspaper’s political cartoon is sparking debate and controversy amid a national discussion on police-involved shootings.
The Wilmington News Journal published the cartoon in their newspaper Sunday and on their website. The cartoon, created by a local artist, shows a police officer pointing a gun at baby New Year who has a bottle in his hand. In the cartoon the officer says, “He’s holding something, could be a weapon.”
“To me this was just a gratuitous cheap shot,” said Thomas Brackin, the head of the Delaware State Troopers Association.
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The cartoon comes in the aftermath of two high-profile police cases in Delaware. In December, a Dover Police officer who was caught on dashcam video kicking a man in the head was acquitted of assault. In September, police in Wilmington shot and killed a man in a wheelchair who was allegedly armed with a gun. The investigation into that shooting continues.
Brackin told NBC10 that in light of those incidents as well as police shootings across the country, the News Journal’s cartoon is unfair to law enforcement agencies who are working on improving community relations.
“I don’t think its satire,” Brackin said. “I think it was just meant to be inflammatory.”
Some residents who spoke with NBC10 disagreed with his assessment however, claiming good police officers shouldn’t be offended by the cartoon which they believe raises awareness on an important issue.
“The police shouldn’t feel like it’s unfair because it’s the truth,” said Terri Jones of Wilmington. “It’s what’s going on.”
The News Journal also posted letters from readers criticizing the cartoon, calling it obscene and in poor taste. A spokesperson for the Wilmington Police Department also condemned the cartoon in a released statement.
“The cartoon illustrated in the News Journal over this past weekend goes against all that the Wilmington Police Department and our brothers and sisters in blue stand for,” the spokesperson wrote. “We take an oath to serve and protect the citizens of Wilmington, and surrounding areas and we take that oath very seriously. Our officers put their lives on the line on a daily basis in an increasingly dangerous profession. The fact that a media outlet would print such an offensive, disgraceful illustration is reprehensible.”
NBC10 reached out to both the cartoonist and the News Journal for comment. We have not yet heard back from them however.