KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) — The Knox County Sheriff responded to an editorial cartoon published in the Knoxville News Sentinel on Sunday.
Knox County Sheriff calls cartoon "wildly inappropriate." / Source: (Knox County Sheriff's Office)
"I was appalled. I was very disappointed to see that our local paper put something like that in there," Sheriff Spangler said.
The cartoon shows two people of color having a conversation. One character says, "You should get out of the house," to which the other replies, "And risk being shot by police?"
In another panel, their conversation says "OK, then stay inside the house." with the reply, "And risk being shot by police?"
The image was created by USA Today cartoonist, Mike Thompson.
"It's very upsetting," he added.
Sheriff Spangler comments reflect those mentioned in a formal letter that the sheriff's office released in which he called the cartoon "wildly inappropriate."
"I was disappointed and appalled to see the editorial cartoon in the Knoxville News Sentinel on October, 20," said Sheriff Spangler. "The cartoon is an effort to teach the citizens of this county to be afraid of my deputies in their own homes. As Sheriff, I cannot let that effort go unchallenged."
As for why he sent the letter, Sheriff Spangler said, "I wanted them to know that I was very disgusted with them putting that in the paper. I didn't think it was right. I didn't think it was fair to portray our officers and any other officers that way."
"When you're working so hard with the community to make sure that we're letting them know that they're safe, and then we do something like that or they do something like that...just adds a divide. And we don't need that division," Sheriff Spangler said.
Spangler said he'd "like a response" from the paper on the issue and said, as of Tuesday afternoon, he had not received one.
"I don't think they owe me an apology. They owe the men and women of law enforcement an apology," he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said it supported the Knox County Sheriff's Office and the sheriff's letter to the editor.
"This job has become increasingly difficult, due to media outlets taking isolated incidents and pushing a narrative that simply doesn't exist," the sheriff's office said on Facebook.
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