A Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) cartoon of Governor Augustus Jaspert kneeling on the neck of talkshow host Claude Skelton Cline has been met with public outrage and calls for the website to remove the post.
Several residents and public figures have described the cartoon as insensitive and some have demanded a public apology from the management of the media company.
“For this news site to publish the Governor on the neck of a Mr Cline is inflammatory, insensitive and irresponsible. We don’t need to fuel race tensions here in our BVI, in such a callous and blatant manner,” local businessman Dr Michael Turnbull said in a Facebook post.
He continued: “If you’re a business that advertises with Virgin Islands News Online, a call needs to be made to have them remove this image or you remove your ads. Silence is stating you support. You have a corporate responsibility. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that we have to fund this new site.”
Turnbull’s statement, which was posted around 11:30 am on Monday, June 15, has received more than 40 reactions, as well as multiple shares and comments expressing similar sentiments.
Advertisers told to boycott
Meanwhile, former NDP candidate in the 2019 General Elections, Aaron Parillon has also expressed his disgust on social media.
“Representatives of VINO, you and I have no sort of relations whatsoever but do right by your people and get your media house in order before we black Virgin Islanders have to. When I see people, I see people. I don’t care what party, race or colour you rock. It is disturbing to use George Floyd’s situation as a reference to prove a political point.”
“I would be ashamed to have my face or family’s face featured on this site as any young professional,” he added.
Up to publication time, his post generated 60 reactions, more than 50 comments and at least seven shares. Parillon and some social media users who commented his post have even called for advertisers to boycott the Julian Willock-owned website.
“People need to stop advertising their businesses as well,” former Miss BVI, Kadia Turnbull wrote.
Adding his voice to the conversation, local recording artiste McKenzie ‘B’More’ Baltimore, Jr wrote: “I am so disgusted right now! Pull the ads. Don’t comment the pics either on the site. I am sick to my stomach.”
“Very insensitive! This must be taken down immediately and apology given,” are other examples of comments that continue to pour in from social media users.
The cartoon and George Floyd’s killing
VINO’s cartoon was inspired by the controversial circumstances surrounding the May 25 death of 46-year-old African-American, George Floyd, who was killed on the streets of Minneapolis, USA when a caucasian police officer kneeled on his neck for just under 9 minutes.
The incident, which which was recorded on video, sparked worldwide protests and violence, calling for an end to racism against the black community.
Premier denounces racism
Even locally, Premier Andrew Fahie has publicly commented on the Floyd killing and denounced all acts of racism.
VINO’s cartoon, in the meantime, follows June 9 statements from Skelton Cline that the United Kingdom and Governor Jaspert have their figurative knees on the necks of Virgin Islanders.
Skelton Cline further called for residents to join in the fight against the injustices being faced by people of colour.
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