Controversial Chicago Newspaper Cartoon Pokes Fun Of Fire Dept.

Chicago) -- Members of the Chicago Fire Department, from the firehouses on up to the top firefighter at City Hall are hopping mad over a Tribune editorial cartoon that ran Sunday.

The cartoon depicts three white Chicago firefighters shooting water at three black men up against a wall with their hands behind their heads. A couple of dogs with the firefighters snarl at the black men and a fourth firefighter shouts to the others, "No, guys...the fire's over there", as he points to a building in the opposite direction.

Chicago Fire Commissioner Jim Joyce says he's outraged by the cartoon and says it conjures up reminders of the excesses by police in the Deep South in the 1950s. Joyce says "there is nothing like that that has ever taken place in this city".

Joyce says he has "fired the Tribune" and canceled his subscription. Chicago Firefighters Union president Jim McNally says he has heard from a number of firefighters who have also canceled their subscriptions to the paper because of the cartoon.

McNally calls the cartoon a "desecration" .... a "slap in the face to firefighters". Commissioner Joyce says "to put a scare in the citizens that our firefighters would ignore their emergencies is just wrong".

The cartoon was a "special to the Tribune" drawn by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Doug Marlette whose biography says draws for New York Newsday. Chicago Tribune Public Editor Don Wycliff could not be reached for comment by WBBM, but he tells the Sun-Times he does not think the cartoon "crossed the line", that it was "satire".

The cartoon followed weeks of stories about racial slurs uttered over the Chicago Fire Department radio system. Two firefighters were suspended because of one of the incidents. The fire department says it has not been able to trace the origin of the others and suggests some of them might have been from hackers breaking in to the fire department system.