Some 200 people chanting "Boycott the Post! Shut it down!'' marched in front of the New York Post on Thursday to protest a cartoon that critics say links President Obama to the chimpanzee that was shot dead by police in Connecticut.
Protesters are asking advertisers to pull their ads from the paper and have vowed to continue demonstrating until cartoonist Sean Delonas is fired.
"There is no reason that this cartoon should have been placed in that paper,” said Hazel Dukes of the NAACP's New York Chapter.
The cartoon, which links President Barack Obama's stimulus bill to a dead chimpanzee, drew outrage from civil rights leaders and elected officials who said it echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.
"You have offended the intelligence of all Americans to suggest that this is satire," Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James said. "This is not parody. This is insult of the office of the President of the United States of America. To refer to him as a chimp, as a primate, is an insult. "
The cartoon by Delonas shows a dead chimp and two police officers, one with a smoking gun. The caption reads, “They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.''
The cartoon is a reference to Travis the chimp, who was shot to death by police in Connecticut on Monday after it mauled a friend of its owner. Obama signed his administration's economic stimulus plan on Tuesday.
"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it's a duck," said Anthony Wendell, the NAACP chairman from Detroit. "What they've done today is duck responsibility to make sure people come together."
Dukes said it was ironic that one the founders of the New York Post also founded the NAACP.
"It was not at that time what it is today," Dukes said of the tabloid.
Protesters said they have requested a meeting with the publishers of the Post.
Rev. Al Sharpton, members of the National Action Network and other leaders have joined the protest on Sixth Avenue.
On Wednesday, Sharpton called the cartoon “troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.''
The cartoon set off a furious response against the Post. The phones at the newspaper rang off the hook all day with angry callers. Protesters picketed the tabloid's Manhattan offices, demanding an apology and a boycott and chanting “shut the Post down.''
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said his office received complaints about the cartoon and he understands why.
“If its disturbing connection to reprehensible racial stereotyping was unintentional, it just proves once again how disconnected the Post is from New York City and its residents. And for such a weak joke," Markowitz said in a statement. "There’s no excuse. The ‘editors’ overseeing such content should be ashamed—and held accountable. The Post is always quick on the attack, so now we ask that they do the right thing and apologize to all who were offended by this tasteless cartoon.”
The newspaper has stood by its work amid the backlash.
“The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut,” said Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the Post. “It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.''
Critics contend that the cartoon purposely links Obama with racist imagery, and that Post artist Sean Delonas has a record of depicting African Americans, gays, in a stereotypical fashion.
An earlier Delonas cartoon made fun of Paul McCartney's ex-wife Heather Mills for having only one leg, and another compared gay people seeking marriage licenses to sheep lovers. In a cartoon from last month, an enormous Jessica Simpson dumps boyfriend Tony Romo for Ronald McDonald.
State Sen. Eric Adams called the comic a “throwback to the days'' when black men were lynched.
“How could The Post let this cartoon pass as satire?'' asked Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “To compare the nation's first African-American commander in chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel.''
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to comment on the cartoon Wednesday. “I have not seen the cartoon,'' he told reporters aboard Air Force One as Obama returned to Washington from Arizona, where he announced his plan to deal with the foreclosure crisis. “But I don't think it's altogether newsworthy reading the New York Post.''