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Firestorm of controversy; police union fires back at local newspaper

Stonington, CT – The Westerly Sun editorial staff took some heat on Monday after posting a controversial cartoon to its editorial page.
Tribune Content Agency Editorial Cartoon as published by the Westerly Sun 09/2016.

Tribune Content Agency Editorial Cartoon as published by the Westerly Sun 09/26/2016.

The Tribune Content Agency (TCA) clearinghouse editorial cartoon shown above as posted by the local newspaper The Westerly Sun set off a firestorm of controversy in the close-knit, New England communities the local publication serves.

Union, Community speak out

Westerly Local #503, International Brotherhood of Police Officers on Monday expressed their disdain with the newspaper’s choice of content.
“This was a distasteful choice, which paints all of us in Law Enforcement with the same brush. –International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 503
The  union posted to its Facebook page.  Noting the department’s strong ties with the community, the message to the Sun and its editorial staff was clearly one of disappointment, pointing out that the controversial issues playing out in Chicago, North Carolina and other areas of the country do not necessarily apply to the Westerly community.  The union went on to say,
“While we will continue to serve the public to the best of our ability, we don’t appreciate The Westerly Sun making it harder for us.”
Area residents immediately took to social media, commenting on the newspaper’s use of the racially-motivated cartoon, that portrayed an African-American youth in exchange with a uniformed police officer. Comments on the police blog were generally supportive of the local police department, and aimed at negating any implication that the community and its police force are racist.
Stonington Selectman, Michael Spellman, a career police officer, having retired from the Connecticut State Police and now serving as a Groton Police officer, called for an apology from the newspaper’s managing editor, David Tranchida. Thanking those who serve in the Westerly and Stonington, Connecticut departments, Spellman on Monday, called the paper’s choice of content, “very poor judgement.”
“This Sun editorial cartoon impugns them, and is not reflective of their day to day efforts to serve and protect our communities,” wrote Spellman on social media. “Those that lay it on the line daily are deserving of an apology from David Tranchida of The Sun who printed this.”

Note: In full disclosure, the author is a former employee of Sun Publishing Co., the publisher of the cartoon portrayed above.

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