The Roswell Daily Record, a local New Mexico newspaper, has been known to publish controversial cartoons, but one cartoon posted on February 15 is causing uproar in town and on social media.
Keith Bell, the newspaper’s cartoonist, created an image that many readers are claiming is racist and “lacks common sense.”
The cartoon is of a sign that says, “Cesar Chavez, home and national monument, 811 Miles West,” on one side and on the other side says, “Martin Luther King, birth home and national historic site 1272 miles east.”
The cartoon's caption reads, “To clear up any confusion about where some people should go.”
Also in the image are two birds speaking, one says, “What this town really needs is a Larry Bird Boulevard!” and the other responds “Yea!”
The local newspaper that was made famous for its article of the 1947 UFO crash released this in a comment on Thursday on a Facebook post of the picture:
“The cartoon refers to a very local issue, discussed at a Jan. 27 city Streets and Alleys committee meeting, where some people proposed renaming existing streets in Roswell. “There is a lot of ‘domino effect’ in changing street names, you have to think about the post office, maps, and even the Internet, things like Google,” as one city official stated at the meeting. We certainly did not imagine it would be interpreted as wanting people to leave our town permanently. The intent was that just as Larry Bird has no connection to Roswell, neither do MLK nor César Chávez. The cartoonist meant that if we are going to have honorary street signs, the individuals named on those signs should have connections to Roswell. The intent of the cartoon was that the idea of renaming streets here in Roswell is mostly considered superfluous.”
A petition on “MoveOn.org,” is circulating on Twitter and Facebook calling to shut down the paper. There are currently over 800 signatures.
Democratic State Chair and Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales told NBCNews via email, his thoughts on the cartoon.
“We are better than this. As New Mexicans, we don’t just tolerate diversity, it’s who we are. We embrace it, we celebrate it. This kind of thing has no place in our state,” said Gonzalez. The Santa Fe Mayor has made comments in the past regarding the newspaper’s cartoonist and his caricatures.
Bell is not new to creating controversial cartoons.
According to local station, KRQE 13, Bell created a cartoon titled, “The Real Fallen Angels” that featured 10 kids said to be killed by dogs. The cartoon ended, “ask dog activists why they don’t care about children.”
This cartoon came after an advertisement from the Roswell Animal Shelter, featuring dead dogs, was released in reaction to the city’s new rescue adoption policy. The policy was put in effect after rescue dogs escaped a shelter and killed a 9-year-old boy.