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Trayvon Martin Cartoon: The Daily Tar Heel Faces Backlash For Controversial Illustration

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The Daily Tar Heel
The Daily Tar Heel

Students on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are condemning a controversial editorial cartoon that ran in the student newspaper this week.

The Daily Tar Heel, a UNC student paper, ran a cartoon depicting police responding to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. A person identified as George Zimmerman tells a cop "This wasn't about race. I shot because I felt threatened. Skittles are full of high fructose corn syrup."

Students and alumni said in letters to the editor that they were "saddened," "disappointed" and "disturbed" by the drawing. Steven Norton, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, said he awoke Thursday to emails and tweets from angry readers about the cartoon.

Yet, in a statement Norton posted online, he didn't apologize for running the illustration:

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 concerning 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.

Martin was a 17-year-old who had only a can of Iced Tea and a bag of Skittles on him when Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, shot him. Zimmerman claims he did it in self defense. The cartoon ran the day after UNC students participated in a solidarity march calling for justice for Martin in the case.

Unlike the controversial Trayvon Martin cartoon by a student published in The Daily Texan, a University of Texas at Austin student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel ran a nationally syndicated illustration pulled from a wire service.

Students are unhappy that it made it to print regardless of who drew it.

"As a result of publishing this cartoon," Ashlyn Sanders, a UNC physics student wrote, "one is forced to question the DTH’s integrity, maturity and sensitivity to issues affecting many students, and the general public."

See the controversial cartoon run in The Daily Tar Heel:

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