Pickets at Newsday decry hate crime cartoon

Demonstrators protest against Newsday in front of the

Demonstrators protest against Newsday in front of the Newsday building. (November 18, 2009) Photo Credit: Karen Wiles Stabile

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About 20 people picketed Newsday's office in Melville Wednesday, expressing anger over a syndicated cartoon in Sunday's paper that joked about a hate crime.

Carrying signs that read "Boycott Newsday," the protesters demanded that editor John Mancini be fired.

The demonstrators said they were outraged that a Mallard Fillmore cartoon strip appeared just a week after the one-year anniversary of the death of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue.

"This was insulting," said Fernando Mateo, of the not-for-profit advocacy group, Hispanics Across America. "It touched a chord. This is totally unacceptable."

The cartoon, penned by Bruce Tinsley, was titled "Liberals: The Early Years." It depicted a larger dinosaur chasing a small one. The bigger one says, "I'm not chasing you because you're a pachycephalosaurus. . . . I'm chasing you because you're delicious." The smaller dinosaur responds, "Oh, thank goodness. I was worried that this might be a hate crime."

"It's something serious," said Marcelo Lucero's brother, Joselo Lucero, 35, of Patchogue. "This is no joke for me. It was a tragedy."

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Newsday issued a statement Wednesday that said the cartoon should never have been published. "We expect the cartoons we publish, many of which are nationally syndicated, to amuse, stir and entertain, but never to offend," said the statement, signed by Newsday spokeswoman Deidra Parrish Williams. "Hate crime is a serious issue. This nationally syndicated cartoon should never have run and we have expressed our concern to the syndicator."

In an e-mail to Newsday, Tinsley stood behind the cartoon. "I take your newspaper's concern seriously, and your readers' perceptions even more seriously," Tinsley wrote. "But at the same time, as a cartoonist and former reporter, I don't steer away from controversy."

Mancini defended Newsday's stories about Long Island immigration issues. "We stand by our coverage," he said.

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