The IAFF is calling for Pensacola News Journal to apologize for an editorial cartoon the newspaper published on June 16.
The cartoon shows two firefighters hosing down two black people as one of the firefighters says: "Don’t worry, since they laid off all the journalists in Alabama we can get away with this kind of stuff again!"
The cartoon was inspired by the news that the company Advance Publication -- which owns The Times-Picayune in New Orleans as well as the The Birmingham News, the Press-Register of Mobile and The Huntsville Times -- plans to lay off hundreds of employees and cut publication from daily to three days a week in the fall, according to The News Journal.
In a statement released Monday, IAFF President Harold Schaitberger demanded that the newspaper's cartoonist, Andy Marlette, and editors apologize to the firefighters he says they offended.
"We rely on the sound, unbiased work of real reporters and editors to bring us the news, but on June 16, Andy Marlette and the Pensacola News Journal violated that standard by printing a senseless, confusing and bigoted illustration that should never have reached print," he said. "Mr. Marlette and the News Journal owe fire fighters and readers an unequivocal apology."
Marlette has defended his drawing, saying it was "a dark comment on the fact that the most sinister things happen -- in fact have always happened -- when nobody is there to show and tell about them."
Richard A. Schneider, The News Journal's executive editor, said the cartoon falls in line with the mission of the editorial page, and that the newspaper will not apologize.
Leaders from the Pensacola Professional Firefighters Local 707 went to the newspaper's office to seek an apology and retraction and all they got was an explanation they say was not good enough.
"I feel that it was very disrespectful to that event to portray it like they did, I mean, we're doomed to relive our history if we don't remember our history and I agree with that," Union President Philip Hoffman told WEAR-TV. "But to use that cartoon to show the demise of the print media, that's despicable, absolutely despicable."