City Beat

NAACP calls News & Review’s cartoons of Kevin Johnson ‘racist’

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson testifies in the arena court trial on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Sacramento.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson testifies in the arena court trial on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

The local chapter of the NAACP on Tuesday called cartoons of Mayor Kevin Johnson in last week’s edition of the Sacramento News & Review “racist” and demanded an apology from the publication.

One cartoon of Johnson appeared on the cover and another accompanied an article detailing Johnson’s legal battle with the city of Sacramento and the News & Review over emails the mayor exchanged with his attorney during his 2013 effort to gain control of the National Conference of Black Mayors. Johnson sought a restraining order against the city and the News & Review in an attempt to block the emails’ release, arguing the correspondence should be protected by attorney-client privilege.

The NAACP said in a press release the cartoons show “images of the mayor with a crazed and violent look” and that they reinforce “what many believe is the persona of many African American males.” The group said it was planning a Thursday news conference at its headquarters with “various faith-based organizations, business leaders and other community-based nonprofit organizations.”

News & Review co-editor Nick Miller said in an email that “the illustrations of Mayor Kevin Johnson in SN&R’s July 9 issue depict him as sweaty and nervous while reading about his lawsuit against this paper and allegations of email misuse. These illustrations are based on an actual photo of the mayor.”

“We refute the NAACP’s assertion that the illustrations are in any way racist, violent, or perpetuating negative stereotypes, or that our coverage of the mayor is racially biased,” Miller wrote. “Such accusations are unfounded and without merit.”

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