Trayvon Martin editorial cartoon causes campus outrage

Mar. 29, 2012 1:03 pm

Updated at 6:30 p.m. with a statement from the Daily Tar Heel Editor-in-Chief.

Only one day after students marched on campus in opposition to racism in the Trayvon Martin case, an editorial cartoon in The Daily Tar Heel has incited campus outrage over perceived racism and poor taste on the opinion page.

The cartoon, which was a syndicated cartoon from the Tribune Media Services (meaning it wasn’t drawn by a UNC student, and runs in papers across the country) is not available directly on the Daily Tar Heel website, a common practice with syndicated material.

Read a good explainer of the Trayvon Martin case from Mother Jones here.

Editor-in-Chief Steven Norton defended the decision to run the cartoon in a column published Thursday:

I stand by it, despite the fact that many people — including my editorial board — believe that this nationally syndicated cartoon should not have run in the DTH. I believe it raises legitimate points on the Martin case by calling attention to the absurdity of the situation: Zimmerman’s defense, the police response (or lack thereof), and Florida’s so-called stand your ground law. And as editor-in-chief, I take final responsibility for the content of this newspaper, including what appears on the opinion page.

The full PDF of the March 29 edition of The Daily Tar Heel is posted online, with the cartoon published on the back page:

The Daily Tar Heel for March 29, 2012

The cartoon, which attempts satire in the case of the Trayvon Martin shooting, prompted widespread outrage from students, who called it offensive and demeaning.

The cartoon shows George Zimmerman explaining to a police officer his reasoning for shooting Trayvon Martin, with this speech bubble associated:

“This wasn’t about race. I shot because I felt threatened… Skittles are full of high fructose corn syrup.”

Some people Tweeted that they didn’t find the cartoon that offensive:!/TarHeeIWire/status/185378249298288642

But for most students, the cartoon crossed a line, an opinion they expressed mainly on Twitter:!/christinacierra/status/185391564925829120!/officialjos/status/185407302738776065!/doncooleo/status/185391152881606659

And others pointed to past cartoons that incited campus anger:

A former Daily Tar Heel editor, who worked at the paper during that era, weighed in:

UNC’s Black Student Movement Tweeted that they’d been contacted by alums regarding the cartoon:

Former Opinion Editor Ryan Barber defended the cartoon on Twitter: