ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – A national Hispanic group is taking aim at a New Mexico cartoonist saying his work is racist. The artist says they just don’t get the joke.
A black and white cartoon, created by the Roswell Daily Record’s controversial Keith Bell, has a lot of people shaking their heads.
“It’s making some pretty clear statements that I think you could tie to race,” said Joshua Burgess.
“It’s just offensive,” said Alexis Gonzalez.
The cartoon depicts two streets signs in the alien city. One sign directs people toward a historical Martin Luther King site in Atlanta. The other sign points toward a Cesar Chavez national monument in California.
The caption reads, “To clear up any confusion about where some people should go.”
“My kids are bi-racial. My husband is black and I think that’s separating and in 2015 we should be melting together not separated,” said Gonzalez.
The national online news outlet, Latino Rebels, posted the photo on their website this week calling it bizarre and racist.
“People are taking this completely out of context,” said Keith Bell, the cartoonist behind the artwork.
Bell says he never meant to upset anyone. He says the picture is about people in Roswell working to change street names to honor public figures, not about telling certain people to get out of town.
He says MLK and Cesar Chavez are some of the street names the city is tossing around.
“If they had proposed a George W. Bush street, a street being named after him, I would have done the same cartoon,” Bell said. “It just so happened the two figures that were mentioned were icons of certain communities.”
Controversy is nothing new for the conservative cartoonist. In 2012, Bell created a series of political cartoons attacking the law that lets illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses. In July, he published a piece of work poking fun at Roswell animal groups.
He says it’s the power of free speech.
“Editorial cartooning tends to step on toes and I think that’s what it’s supposed to do,” said Bell.
There’s also an online petition encouraging readers and businesses to boycott the Roswell paper over the latest cartoon controversy. The petition has about 750 signatures.
A spokesperson for the Roswell Daily Record says the cartoon was in no way promoting segregation.