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Hundreds Protest NY Post Cartoon Seen as Racist Depiction of Obama

StoryFebruary 20, 2009
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Protests are continuing today outside the offices of the New York Post following the publication of a cartoon that critics say depicts President Obama as an executed chimpanzee. After a number of civil rights activists and organizations called for a boycott of the paper, the Post issued an apology of sorts last night. We hear some of the voices from Thursday’s protest, including the civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton. [includes rush transcript]

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We wrap up now with the voices of protest. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, protests are continuing today outside the offices of the New York Post following the publication of a cartoon that critics say depicts President Obama as a chimpanzee. The cartoon shows a white police officer shooting dead a chimpanzee in the street. His partner, another white officer, says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

After a number of civil rights activists and organizations called for a boycott of the paper, the Post issued an apology of sorts last night.

AMY GOODMAN: The apology said in part, “It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. Period. But it has been taken as something else — as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize. However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past — and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback. To them, no apology is due.”

Well, on Thursday, the Reverend Al Sharpton led a protest outside the offices of the Post. I interviewed a number of people who were outside in the hundreds that were there.

    AMY GOODMAN: What’s your name?

    DONOVAN: Donovan. Donovan.

    AMY GOODMAN: And how old are you?

    DONOVAN: Nine years old.

    AMY GOODMAN: And why are you here today?

    DONOVAN: Because I want all — I want them to stop comparing black people to monkeys.

    AMY GOODMAN: Did you see the cartoon? How did you feel when you saw it?

    DONOVAN: Sad. Sad.

    AMY GOODMAN: Are you here with your mom?

    DONOVAN: Yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: Where is she?

    DONOVAN: Right here.

    DARLENE: Right here.

    AMY GOODMAN: Hi. What’s your name?

    DARLENE: Darlene.

    AMY GOODMAN: And when did you see the cartoon?

    DARLENE: I saw it this morning, and I was very disturbed, because it showed — it really discriminated and demeaned blacks, as I see it.

    AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about why you brought your son out today?

    DARLENE: I brought him out for one thing. I didn’t — I wanted to be here, and I wanted him to see what I was coming out for.

    SALAAM ISMIAL: My name is Salaam Ismial. I’m with the National United Youth Council Incorporated. I was doing a lecture on Black History Month, and then one of the youngsters said, “Did you see what was on TV? They’re saying, talking about Obama, it looked like a monkey, and they shoot him.” This is how a kid explained it to me. Monkey was something that I know, I can relate to. When I was in the kindergarten, they used to call black boys monkeys in Jersey City, New Jersey. So I understand what that means. This is not funny. This is hurtful. And now our young people can see that for the first time in their life. They see a person that looks like them, a black president, and now they’re talking about depicting him as a monkey, and to go out and shoot him dead.

    LYNNE STEWART: I’m Lynne Stewart. I’m an embattled ex-lawyer, a victim of the Bush administration. And I’m here today because it not only attracts all of us, even those of us who are not Obama supporters, but this cuts across all of that.

    LLOYD “TYKE” RIDDICK: Lloyd “Tyke” Riddick out of New Jersey. And I’m exceptionally upset with this. I was in the Air Force six-and-a-half years. I’m seventy-four years old. I’ve been through hell for this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Some of the voices at the protest. It was led by Al Sharpton, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and New York City Council member Charles Barron.

    AMY GOODMAN: What did you think of Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech, saying we are a nation of cowards?

    CHARLES BARRON: Well, now he can show some bravery — it was an excellent remark — he can show some bravery now by joining us and investigating the New York Post for threatening the life or suggesting that the life of the first black president should be taken, because he is the architect of the stimulus package. So, Holder should back up that talk with some action.

    AMY GOODMAN: What was that last comment you made?

    REV. AL SHARPTON: I said that even though they called us chimps, we came to let them know we’re not chumps.

    AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Rupert Murdoch should be investigated overall?

    REV. AL SHARPTON: Absolutely. I think that the arrogance and insensitivity they display now opens up a whole area of let’s look at the — how do you get these waivers, in the first place? How do you operate under such level of —

    AMY GOODMAN: What waiver?

    REV. AL SHARPTON: Well, the waiver that got him the right to owning two TV stations and a newspaper in this town. He had to get an FCC waiver for that. Well, there’s a new president, a new administration, new FCC. We’re going to review that. We’re going to Washington next week.

AMY GOODMAN: Some of the voices of protest outside the New York Post. Today, Reverend Sharpton says that he will be there along with Spike Lee and others. They’re calling for a boycott of the New York Post. And we’ll continue to cover this controversy.

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