A political cartoon by cartoonist Pat Bagley, which tackled the issue of white supremacy in U.S. law enforcement, sparked a controversial online debate, with two Utah law enforcement groups and a Utah representative stating that it had gone too far.
The cartoon, titled “The Deep Hate,” was printed in the Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday. The cartoon shows a doctor showing a law enforcement officer an X-ray, with a Ku Klux Klan hood visible within the skeleton. The doctor says to the law enforcement officer “well, there’s your problem ….” The Tribune stated on Thursday that it was standing by the cartoon and hopes viewers “resolve to take appropriate action.”
Some interpreted the cartoon to mean that law enforcement has white supremacy within its structure, but others interpreted it as calling all law enforcement officers racist.
The Utah Sheriffs’ Association and the Utah Fraternal Order of Police issued statements slamming the cartoon.
A public letter from the Utah Sheriffs’ Association signed by Sevier County Sheriff Nate Curtis, its president, and its executive director, Scott Burns, stated that the cartoon was a “hand grenade” during this time when the tensions between police and the public are high.
“This is not the time for such a prejudicial piece of journalism as law enforcement officers across Utah and across the United States go to work every day to protect communities and do their best to help victims of crime and keep the peace … this is not the time for a cheap shot,” the letter read, stating that law enforcement members were demanding an apology from Bagley.
The Fraternal Order of Police posted a sarcastic critique of the cartoon, stating, “The corporate-sponsored mob loves the cartoon, and we are sure he will be nominated for another award.” The public letter stated that the cartoon was published on the 7th year anniversary of the murder of Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson.
“He depicted our friend, a murdered officer, as a KKK member … you see, it is okay to kill a KKK member. Perhaps Mr. Bagley could sign the cartoon and give it to his widowed wife and child; we are sure they would love to meet someone as highly esteemed and insightful as Mr. Bagley,” the letter read.
Bagley released a series of tweets defending the cartoon.
He posted on Wednesday afternoon: “The cop in the cartoon is in for a check-up because he felt something was wrong. White supremacists have made it a point to infiltrate law enforcement. That’s a fact. That’s a problem.”
On Thursday morning he wrote that he “went to some pains to show that not all police are racist.”
Sources: America Now