Demonstrators took to the streets Thursday evening to protest a controversial cartoon published by the Albuquerque Journal that depicts a white couple being robbed at gunpoint by members of MS-13 with the caption, “Now, honey…I believe they prefer to be called ‘Dreamers’...or future Democrats…” in reference to DACA recipients
The cartoon was created by Sean Delonas of the syndicated Cagle Cartoons website.
“They say it’s an opinion — we say it’s hate speech,” said Bex Hampton, an organizer with the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism Coalition.
Hampton said the demonstrators are asking for the paper to “actually apologize” — referring to a statement published Thursday by the Journal’s editor-in-chief Karen Moses as “ingenuine.”
Debra Haaland, a University of New Mexico alum and Democrat who is running for Congress in CD-1, said she felt perplexed about the publishing of the cartoon, calling it “a tremendous misrepresentation of who Dreamers are.”
“If they wanted to provoke conversation on the issues of immigration and Dreamers, I think it could’ve been achieved without a racist cartoon,” Haaland said.
The protesters took part in chants, such as “Racism is not okay in the Burque” and “Karen Moses must go.”
Protesters eventually made their way across the street, stopping oncoming traffic, as they marched to the front of the Albuquerque Journal building. Several Journal staff members stood outside watching the protest.
“These are everyday (citizens) making their voices heard on the issue of race,” said Zackary Quintero, UNM Law student and president of Young Democrats of New Mexico, who was part of the protest.
Protesters held a myriad of different signs with slogans, such as “ABQ Journal: Mouthpiece of racism,” “I’m a proud NM immigrant” and “ABQ Journal: Racist and Decisive.”
Protestor Chloe Mathers, a sophomore majoring in education, said that the Journal’s editorial board should step down, echoing the sentiments of many other protesters.
“It’d be a start,” Mathers said. “These are the kind of things they need to do.”
In her extended statement about the cartoon, Moses said it appeared “on one level” to ridicule President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric by showing a Republican couple making false generalizations about Dreamers.
Later in the statement Moses said the Albuquerque Journal does not condone any form of racism or bigotry.
“In hindsight, instead of generating debate, this cartoon only inflamed emotions,” Moses said. “This was not the intent, and for that, the Journal apologizes.”
Moses ended her statement saying the paper does not agree with many opinions featured on the editorial pages, which are designed to encourage debate. She said the editorial board makes decisions on what to publish on editorial pages, which are separate from the newsroom and reporters.
Democratic U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall as well as Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller also expressed their sentiments about the cartoon on Twitter.
On Twitter, Keller called the cartoon “deeply racist and offensive” and said Albuquerque’s diversity and deep multicultural roots are what make the city great.
Protesters said this would not be the last time the Journal heard from them.
Madison Spratto is a news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.
Kyle Land is a news editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.