An editorial cartoon depicting children asking Santa Claus to keep them safe from police has sparked outrage and discourse.
The cartoon, published in a Bucks County newspaper, shows a group of children in front of Santa Claus asking him to, “Keep us safe from the police."
Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 president John McNesby wrote a scathing letter to the Bucks County Courier Times about the cartoon, reports Philly.com.
"Surprisingly, you have at least one reader of that excuse for a newspaper you run," McNesby wrote. "The one reader forwarded a copy of your disgraceful and highly offensive 'cartoon.'"
McNesby continues in the letter to demand an apology for law-enforcement officers and their families.
"There is a special place in hell for you miserable parasites in the media who seek to exploit violence and hatred in order to sell advertisements," McNesby wrote.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey provided his negative reaction to the cartoon, as well, stating it did not help relationships in the community between children and police.
“What does that really do to strengthen relationships? Is it really that bad where you have little kids that would say that to Santa Claus? I’ve had parents that had their little child with them and I’m in uniform and they say, ‘Now you be careful, that policeman might come and get you.’ Well, don’t make us into the boogie man. If that child is lost, you want him to walk up to a policeman and say ‘I’m lost,’ so that we can find the parents,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey also noted that the cartoon made him think of his fallen officers and how their loved ones would respond.
“The first thing that crossed my mind, if you have a line of kids meeting Santa Claus, I looked at the wall I have in my office, I have seven police officers in the six years that I‘ve been here, killed in the line of duty. What do you think their children would’ve been asking Santa? ‘Can I have another day with my father?’ That’s what their question would’ve been,” Ramsey said. “It cuts both ways, and I think that people need to be sensitive to that. We’ve got men and women that risk their lives on a daily basis to serve the public — the very public that people are saying that we don’t care about. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t have officers that engage in acts of misconduct. Some do, and we need to really go after them and go after them hard, because they damage the entire profession.”
Reddit users chimed-in on the cartoon, displaying various reactions and what they view it stands for politically.
“The whole point of political cartoons is to shine light on controversy. So I would say this was a very successful political cartoon,” wrote user itstoearly.
“The best part is that they publish a cartoon illustrating distrust of the police, and the police respond by bullying, harassing and threatening them. It's like they are actively trying to make us agree with the cartoon even more,” user chrono14 wrote.
“The editorial staff and management team of the Bucks County Courier Times respect the work of law enforcement and appreciate the risks they take and sacrifices they make each day.
“The editorial cartoon that was published in our newspaper on Sunday, Dec. 7, was a commentary about the broad and complex relationship between black youth and police in America. It’s a relationship that has room for improvement, as has been acknowledged by members of both communities.
“Though we don’t know what was in the heart and mind of the award-winning syndicated cartoonist who penned the cartoon, it was selected for publication for thoughtful reflection on that relationship. It in no way was intended to indict the law enforcement community.
"If we had recognized prior to publication that the cartoon would have caused unintended offense, our editors would have selected a different one for Sunday’s newspaper.”
The letter concludes by stating it is the paper’s “job” to publish “a variety of opinions on the issue and will continue to do so.”
“The Courier Times welcomes all views because we know that conversation and debate is the fuel that will bring about positive change in our communities."