Utah lawmakers want newspaper to apologize for ‘horrific’ cartoon of fellow congressman

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Former NFL player Burgess Owens testifies during a hearing on slavery reparations held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTVX) — A group of Utah lawmakers has issued a joint statement demanding that The Salt Lake Tribune immediately remove what they called a “repugnant” cartoon depicting Congressman Burgess Owens, R-Utah.

The cartoon, by Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley, appears to liken Owens, who is Black, to a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

U.S. Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney and Reps. Chris Stewart, John Curtis and Blake Moore, all R-Utah, issued a statement that reads:

“The Salt Lake Tribune recently published a repugnant ‘cartoon’ comparing Congressman Burgess Owens, our esteemed colleague and only black member of the Utah delegation, to a member of the Ku Klux Klan. This racially charged, perverse political statement is beyond the pale. We ask that The Salt Lake Tribune immediately take down this horrific image, issue a formal apology, and hold themselves to a higher standard.”

Owens called the cartoon “pathetic.”

“The Salt Lake Tribune and Pat Bagley compare me to the KKK, the radical hate group that terrorized me in my youth because I am one of many sounding the alarm of the trauma being faced by women and children crossing the border,” Owens said in a tweet.

Owens and Bagley went back and forth about the cartoon on Twitter.

“We have heard of ‘mansplaining,’ now we have ‘whitesplaining’ from a white man comparing a black man, who grew up under Jim Crow laws, to the KKK. Awful tone-deaf @sltrib@Patbagley. Expect an apology, but I won’t hold my breath,” Owens said.

Bagley responded, “My problem with Burgess Owens, as with so many Republicans, is his promotion of dangerous conspiracy theories totally divorced from reality.”

Bagley says though he can’t speak to the Black experience, he can speak to the effect the words Owens used have on white people. “From time immemorial they have been used to stir up irrational fear and animosity,” he wrote.

In 2020, a protest of the Salt Lake Tribune was held over a controversial cartoon that some say appeared to associate police officers with the KKK.

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