SALT LAKE CITY – After months of protests around the nation over racial injustice in policing, police groups in Utah say they have grown frustrated with rhetoric they describe as unfair and called for The Salt Lake Tribune to apologize after it published an editorial cartoon linking the Ku Klux Klan with law enforcement.
Police supporters staged a protest outside the Tribune’s printing press Thursday night after the Utah Sheriffs’ Association, and Republican U.S. Rep Chris Stewart demanded that the paper retract the cartoon and apologize. Several police groups, including the state's Department of Public Safety, have condemned the use of KKK imagery to portray law enforcement officials.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson said he found the cartoon extremely offensive and decided to speak out because it unfairly grouped local officers with the national narrative about racism in policing. He said there are areas in which local police departments can improve, but he is confident that in Utah “policing as a whole is good."
“It was time as our silent voices have really been just in a listening mode of what all the concerns are now to say you know what enough was enough and you’ve crossed the line,” Anderson said Friday. “That’s completely inappropriate, completely inappropriate and uncalled for.”
The cartoon titled “The Deep Hate” shows a police officer and a doctor looking at an X-ray that shows a figure in a white Ku Klux Klan hood where the officer's spine should be. The Salt Lake City paper does not plan to apologize, and the cartoon is still online.
“The cop in the cartoon is in for a check up because he felt something was wrong,” cartoonist Pat Bagley wrote on Twitter. “White supremacists have made it a point to infiltrate law enforcement. That’s a fact. That’s a problem.”
Bagley said the cartoon was never meant to imply that all police officers are racist.
Several police officials signed a letter saying the cartoon would only further divide people as officials are working to better serve people of color in their communities.