Thursday, March 11, 2021

Altered Cartoon Causing a Stir in Trenton

 From The Trentonian,

Original cartoon by Brian Fairrington

It's not the first time a politician was upset about a political cartoon.

But at-large councilman Jerell Blakeley said he felt an editorial satire that appeared on a local Facebook group went too far by calling for his assassination during a taut time in city politics.

Blakeley suggested administrators of the popular online forum Trenton Orbit “tacitly” endorsed violence because they laughed at a cartoon that suggested killing politicians was "community service."

Doctored cartoon

“What if someone sees that and decides to knock on my door and take the advice of that [cartoon]?” Blakeley told The Trentonian by phone Monday night.

He was shook by a political cartoon of a woman behind the privacy screen of a confessional telling a priest she must unburden herself.

“Bless me, father, for I have sinned. Last night I killed a politician,” the woman says in the cartoon.

“My daughter, I’m here to listen to your sins, not your community service work,” the priest responds.

Blakeley made a big to-do that forum administrators and moderators Bill Kearney and Mike Ranallo shared a laughing emoji under the cartoon post shared by Carol Marchisella.

“It’s no laughing matter,” Blakeley said, adding he planned to speak to city police director Sheilah Coley because he felt it it incited violence against himself and other elected leaders in Trenton.

Marchisella later posted a disclaimer on the cartoon: "No harm was intended to any politician. This post was offered to lighten up the horrible conversation continuing within our government. Thank you."

Orbit leaders said Blakeley needed to lighten up and denied that they were inciting or endorsing violence against anyone.

“Absolutely ridiculously not,” Kearney said. “That’s just silly. It’s a cartoon. Cartoons are meant to entertain and poke fun and make light of things. No one is calling for that.”

Kearney found the timing of Blakeley’s criticism curious.

The at-large councilman has found himself embroiled in controversy after he called council president Kathy McBride an “illiterate crackhead prostitute” last year during a coronavirus call.

Many fans and contributors to the Facebook forum have denounced Blakeley’s conduct. McBride’s son, Corey, organized a rally to condemn the councilman’s words against his mother.

The rally veered off the rails when Divine Allah, a New Black Panther Party member, called the city’s openly gay mayor, Reed Gusciora, a “little fa**ot” and trafficked in anti-Semitic slurs.

Some of the speakers at the rally seemed to hint at taking action against Blakeley, with Allah saying: “If it was any other situation, and I mean, truth be told, he’d have his head knocked off."

Blakeley said then he felt threatened and considered filing a police report about what was said at the rally.

He said Monday night he was “way more concerned” about the political cartoon that appeared on Orbit.

“He can go to whoever he wants. That’s fine. No crime has been committed,” Kearney said.

“I’m sorry he’s that sensitive,” Ranallo said. “I hope he cancels his subscription to The New Yorker if he’s offended by political cartoons.”

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