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Controversial cartoonist endorsed by mother of teen beaten by police

Rob Rogers, an editorial cartoonist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, must be feeling pretty gratified right about now. And that’s a hell of a thing to say, in a day when not many people can legitimately claim to be doing something they love.

That’s because Rogers, who has spent the last two months defending himself over a controversial piece of work attacking the local police, just got a very public endorsement from a very special person.

In January, Rogers became the subject of a very mixed public reaction to an editorial cartoon he drew about three white Pittsburgh police officers savagely beating an innocent black male who allegedly ran from them. In his cartoon, he lampooned those who defended the police as conducting themselves “by the book,” joking that the book’s title must be the “Racist Skinhead Etiquette Handbook.”

robrogers policebeating Controversial cartoonist endorsed by mother of teen beaten by police

In a recent blog entry, Rogers published a letter he’d received from the mother of Jordan Miles, the 18-year-old honor student who was viciously beaten after police allegedly mistook a Mountain Dew bottle in his jacket for a gun. In the letter, Terez Miles takes to task both those who defended the police in public after the attack and those who criticized the cartoonist.

jordanmilespittsburghpolicebeatingvictim Controversial cartoonist endorsed by mother of teen beaten by police “…[No] one, to my knowledge, much less you or I, have blamed the entire Pgh. police dept. or sought to demonize all cops because of the actions of a few,” she wrote. “However, you wouldn’t know this by reading and listening to the crazed rantings of those determined to protect and defend the police. Despite what has happened, Jordan and I still have a great deal of respect for police officers and know that most are good. Still, we are amazed at the totally irrational inability of so many people to admit that SOME cops do violate the civil rights of citizens.”

Finally, she turned her piercing analysis toward the police, summarizing their thinking in less than a paragraph.

“What those three thugs did to my son that night had nothing to do with legitimate police work. I know that they did NOT identify themselves and there are several plausible reasons why they might fail to do so: 1) They were operating as thugs, ‘bullies with badges,’ and clearly without regard to laws, rules or regulations. 2) They were absolutely certain that even though they were breaking protocol, this black youth, out after dark, HAD to be guilty of something, and therefore their actions would be justified and the truth never known. 3) They’ve gotten away with it before. 4) the ARROGANCE OF POWER.”

“As more time passes, Miles’ story continues to fade from headlines and public memory,” noted True/Slant contributor Matthew Newton. “Many have speculated that this is precisely what the Pittsburgh police are hoping, that time will erase the incident from memory. Hopefully that’s a cynical view.”

Miles’ full letter is below.

####

Dear Mr. Rogers:

I am Terez Miles, Jordan Miles’ mother. A friend of mine made me aware of your cartoon, which blasts the three Pgh. police officers that brutally attacked my son. It was suggested to me by this same friend, that I contact Police Chief Nate Harper to let him know that I don’t condone the cartoon. I will not, and here’s why.

First of all, I am a huge fan of your work and have been for a long time. You certainly have every right to express yourself any way you wish and represent the public’s opinion and/or outrage on a topic as you see fit in the course of doing your job.

Secondly, no one, to my knowledge, much less you or I, have blamed the entire Pgh. police dept. or sought to demonize all cops because of the actions of a few. However, you wouldn’t know this by reading and listening to the crazed rantings of those determined to protect and defend the police. Despite what has happened, Jordan and I still have a great deal of respect for police officers and know that most are good. Still, we are amazed at the totally irrational inability of so many people to admit that SOME cops do violate the civil rights of citizens. SOME cops do operate as though they’re above the law. SOME cops are racists, and SOME do unfairly assume that all African American males who dare to emerge from their homes after dark must be up to no good.

Thirdly, on the topic of racism, I don’t believe that it should be overlooked as an issue in this case. While police brutality is a separate issue that does occur indiscriminately, there is no doubt in my mind that these three officers would never have behaved as they did on the night of January 12th in a white community, with a a young white man out walking after dark. Many people have spoken out with disgust over any attempt to inject racism into this incident, but I wish that those people were intelligent enough and open minded enough to see clearly the TWO important dynamics at work here: police brutality AND racism. At the very least, we should be able to see that Jordan was unfairly profiled and assumed to be a criminal due to his appearance–something that should be completely unacceptable to all. Furthermore, some have judged Jordan’s style of dress or choice to wear his hair long, in neat dreadlocks, as if these choices somehow made him deserving of that vicious beat-down. To those unfortunate souls, I ask a question: Who then, should be the arbiter of fashion and hairstyling? The answer to me is obvious: NO ONE. This was a free country, the last time I checked.

Finally, I wish everyone could know Jordan, and see for themselves just how genuinely good he is. He isn’t a fighter. He isn’t a criminal. He doesn’t run from cops. In fact, before he was assaulted, he was just naiive enough to truly believe that cops were honorable servants and protectors of the public. Why would he assume anything less? He’s NEVER had the type of lifestyle that would put him afoul of the police. Jordan has stated many times that had he known they were cops, he wouldn’t have tried to run, slipped on the ice, and gotten beaten so badly. Why would an innocent person run from who they know to be police? What those three thugs did to my son that night had nothing to do with legitimate police work. I know that they did NOT identify themselves and there are several plausible reasons why they might fail to do so: 1) They were operating as thugs, “bullies with badges,” and clearly without regard to laws, rules or regulations. 2) They were absolutely certain that even though they were breaking protocol, this black youth, out after dark, HAD to be guilty of something, and therefore their actions would be justified and the truth never known. 3) They’ve gotten away with it before. 4) the ARROGANCE OF POWER.

Mr. Rogers, thank you for taking the time to read this. I release you to share this e-mail with whom ever you wish. Keep up the good work. You have real talent and I love your cartoons.

Terez Miles

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