Cartoonist under fire for depiction of Pittsburgh Police as racists
It’s been over a month since Pittsburgh Police allegedly beat Jordan Miles, an 18-year-old CAPA student who was walking to his grandmother’s house in Homewood when three undercover officers arrested him on suspicion of gun possession. Since then, national attention was temporarily cast on Pittsburgh, but has since mostly faded away. But throughout, public opinion on the incident has remained split. One side supports the actions of the police and believes further examination will reveal the officers acted accordingly in their arrest of Mr. Miles. In contrast, the other side is outraged at the brutality and excessive force used in Miles’ arrest.
Tensions over the incident have popped up again after Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoonist Rob Rogers published a controversial piece depicting Pittsburgh Police as racists. For context, see cartoon and Rogers’ brief comments below:
Editorial cartoons are meant to be provocative. They are intended to make people uncomfortable, especially those who abuse power. On Wednesday I drew a cartoon about the beating of a black teenager, Jordan Miles, by three white policeman. Here is the original story about the beating as it ran in the Post-Gazette and later in the Huffington Post. (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
What has some of the public in a mild frenzy, is the way Rogers used the “by the book” line in the cartoon. It’s a not-so-subtle nod to the public statement made by Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Charles Hanlon, who in the wake of the Miles’ beating, said: “[The officers] actions were correct and law-abiding by everything they received in their training.” One of the panels in the cartoon then shows what Rogers terms as a Racist Skinhead Etiquette Handbook.
In an interview with Editor & Publisher on Thursday, Rogers further discussed the cartoon and police reaction to it:
“As a cartoonist it’s my job to exaggerate to the degree where you get a gasp,” [Rogers said]. “And that, to them, was a blanket statement that all police are racist skinheads. That’s not what I was saying at all. I wanted to direct some attention to this incident — isn’t this a little over the top?” (via Editor & Publisher)
The question Rogers asks, “Isn’t this a little over the top?” is one that any rational person should be asking when this type of violent incident occurs. And the longer this incident is allowed to languish, without action or a definitive endpoint, it runs the risk of fading away for good. To take a look at the blowback from Rogers’ cartoon, just scroll through the comments section here.