By Brett Gillin
A cartoon, originally published in the early 1900s, has become the basis for a lawsuit against San Diego. The lawsuit complains that the racist cartoon, which depicts San Diego’s first black police officer and several Asians, sparks racial tensions. The biggest problem with the cartoon: It was distributed just a few months ago during police training.
According to this article in Fox 5 San Diego, San Diego Police Sergeant Arthur Scott has filed a lawsuit against the city of San Diego and the police department. He alleges that the cartoon, which was handed out during a police training class in August, is racist against both blacks and Asians.
The cartoon depicts San Diego’s first black police officer, Frank McCarter. Although there are actual pictures of McCarter available online, the training insisted on using the cartoon instead, which shows Frank McCarter as having an ape-like appearance. It also shows offensive Asian stereotypes in the background of the cartoon. According to NBC San Diego the cartoon was used in the context of “explaining the history of the police department without any consideration on how offensive it may have been to some officers.”
“I understood the context of the picture that was being presented,” Sgt. Bryan Pendleton told reporters with Fox 5. Pendleton is a leader with the National Black Police Officers Association and was also present during the August training session with Sgt. Arthur Scott. “I was somewhat offended, but maybe not to the level Art was. I’m sure there were different degrees of people being offended by it,” Pendleton continued.
It seems, however, that Scott may not be suing the city and the department for the cartoon alone. According to Scott’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, Scott complained about the cartoon after the class concluded. Scott, a 10-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, wanted the cartoon removed from the training. A couple of weeks later, Scott brought his complaint to Todd Jarvis, the Assistant Chief of Police.
“At first, the chief tried to defend this cartoon ‘This is our first black officer,’ Sgt. Scott says, ‘No, that’s an ape and there’s nothing right about this cartoon,’” Gilleon told reporters. “That’s when Jarvis sits back in his chair and just stares at my client and ends the conversation. At that point, Sgt. Scott knew that he was going to face this retaliation.”
The retaliation that Scott alleges is happening includes being transferred out the San Diego Police Department’s Southeastern Division and into the less-desirable (for Scott at least) Central Division. NBC San Diego also alleges that because of his complaint, Scott was passed up for a promotion.
The lawsuit is asking or unspecified damages.