Protests over a controversial New York Post cartoon drew people from all walks of life Thursday — as activists outlined a detailed plan to show their outrage and demand changes from the spirited tabloid.
It was a huge demonstration, one that clearly got the attention of The Post.
The newspaper came under fire Wednesday after a cartoon was published that critics said links President Barack Obama to a raging chimpanzee shot dead by police in Connecticut. But the newspaper also said the image was exploited by its longtime antagonists.
On Thursday night the tabloid newspaper apologized “to those who were offended by the image,” in an editorial on its Web site.
The editorial also said some media and public figures who have long-standing differences with the paper saw the cartoon “as an opportunity for payback.”
The editorial called them “opportunists” and said: “To them, no apology is due.”
The drawing shows a dead chimp, with the caption reading: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”
That set off a swarm of controversy, culminating in The Rev. Al Sharpton-led protest Thursday afternoon outside The Post’s Manhattan headquarters.
Sharpton, who planned another rally for Friday, released a statement, saying he’s not satisfied with simply an apology.
“The New York Post statement will be discussed by all of the leadership of the various groups that have mobilized and we will respond to it at the rally at 5 p.m. tomorrow outside of the New York Post.
“At this point there will be no cancellation of the rally and though we think it is the right thing for them to apologize to those they offended, they seem to want to want to blame the offense on those of whom raised the issue, rather than take responsibility for what they did.“However, rather than engage as they are in name calling back and forth, we will make a collective decision on how to proceed. All of us can only wish the New York Post had taken a more mature position when the issue was first raised rather than belatedly come with a conditional statement after people began mobilizing and preparing to challenge the waiver of News Corp in the City where they own several television stations and newspapers.”
During Thursday’s protest, CBS 2 HD cameras captured woman carefully ripping up a copy of The Post.
“How dare you violate the president of the United States?” she said.
A nationally syndicated cartoonist joined the protest.
“I feel like this cartoon is an abuse of the form,” said Tony Murphy of the Washington Post Writers Group. “When I draw a cartoon I do it to tell the truth or to build bridge between people or to fight the power. I wouldn’t use a cartoon for this offensive purpose.”
For one woman, it was her first protest in 40 years.
“I was outraged. How could they print this? This is about violence,” “Rachel” said.
Chants of “Shut down The Post!” echoed outside the newspaper’s Manhattan offices.
Hundreds demonstrated to denounce an editorial cartoon that many believe was aimed directly at Obama, the first African American elected to the U.S.’ highest office.
“Clergymen will hit the pulpits this Sunday,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton said the cartoon is racist. He has an ambitious plan of attack: boycotting newsstands, telling people not to buy The Post and asking advertisers not to advertize.
But his biggest threat is going to the Federal Communication Commission.
“Let us remember that Mr. [Rupert] Murdoch got a waiver from the FCC so he could own two radio, two television stations and a newspaper in this town. We will ask the FCC to review that waiver,” Sharpton said.
Prior to the newspaper’s apology on Thursday night, Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan issued the same statement two days in a row.
“The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy,” Allen had said.
Sharpton said he was coming back Friday with actor and director Spike Lee, and copies of The Post that were not sold because of his boycott.
The cartoon seems to be getting widespread national attention. Yahoo! News identified the cartoon as the most e-mailed photo of the day.
“I’m outraged that they’d have the audacity to use this cartoon and not think that it would have an impact for people…how in the world do you have the audacity?” asked Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State NAACP and member of the organization’s national board of directors.
New York Gov. David Paterson had plenty to say Wednesday on the subject.
“They do feed a kind off a negative and stereotypical way that people think, but I think if it’s enough that people are raising this issue, I hope they would clarify it,” he said. “In a situation like this where an economic downturn has shown in the past that it does lead to a lot of unnecessary and stereotypical characterizations, an explanation is in order.”
“I’m trying to be fair to the New York Post, who has never been very fair to me,” he added.