Cartoon printed in local paper after Las Vegas shooting angers readers

BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) – A local newspaper is receiving criticism from its readers over a cartoon about the mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas.

A message about gun violence in the Bennington Banner was overshadowed by the picture drawn next to it. A cartoon reads “Whatever happens in Vegas” and depicts several dead bodies.

Sunday night, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel onto a crowd of more than 22,000 below at a country music festival.

At least 58 were killed and over 500 were wounded.

The cartoon published in the Bennington Banner shocked many people. On Facebook, readers put pressure on the paper’s decision to publish it. They called it “tacky” and “disgraceful” and noted the insensitivity toward the family of Sandy Casey, a victim who grew up in Dorset, Vt.

“That’s the other thing that makes it even worse, honestly, is the fact that there is a local person who was a victim,” Bennington Pizza House co-owner Joel Millington said.

The paper broke its silence on social media saying it realized it was not the right time or place to publish the cartoon. The paper said its intent was to spark a conversation about gun control.

Few people accepted the apology.

“At a time like this, no,” James Oney, of Bennington, said. “Let the people grieve the way they need to.”

“Should not put anything like that in the paper after what just happened,” Jamie Strohmaier, of Bennington, said. “It just adds to the trauma.”

Tuesday night, the paper’s president, Fredric Rutberg, stepped up after he also found the cartoon insulting.

In an apology letter to readers, he wrote in part: “The gravity of our error in judgment was magnified by the fact that one of the victims of this unspeakable horror was a native of Dorset, whose family and friends must have been particularly offended by this cartoon.”

Rutberg said the paper is addressing the matter internally, and he will be at his office at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to talk with readers.

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