Updated at 4:45 p.m. with statement from Bill Miller Sr. and comments from protesters outside the newspaper on Wednesday.
FRANKLIN COUNTY (KMOV.com) – The co-owners of a Franklin County newspaper have resigned over a syndicated editorial cartoon that appeared in Wednesday’s edition that many are calling racist.
Susan Miller Warden and Jeanne Miller Wood, co-owners of ‘The Missourian’, posted a message on the paper’s website early Wednesday after images started circulating showing the day’s editorial cartoon, which depicted what appeared to be a black man wearing a mask and hoodie taking a purse from a white woman who is exclaiming “Help!! Somebody call 911!” while the depicted thief says “Good luck with that lady…we defunded the police.”
Wednesday morning, posts were seen across social media calling for people to boycott the paper and contact their advertisers.
The Missourian is a family-run business; the daughters who run it are putting blame squarely on their father’s shoulders. Bill Miller Sr. is the editor and publisher – it was his decision, they say, to run the cartoon. The Missourian is a local Franklin County paper, and not affiliated with the Columbia Missourian.
The cartoonist, Tom Stiglich, told News 4, via Facebook, "First and foremost, may George Floyd rest in peace. he did not deserve to die like that. I do not condone racism or police brutality of any kind. I feel it's such a hostile environment we're living in right now, one that needs more law and order, not less. The rioting and looting was extremely disheartening. That cartoon was based solely on violent crime numbers here in the US. To ignore that would be doing a disservice to the reader.”
Protesters formed outside the Missourian and the doors were locked most of the day as many people showed up to complain about the cartoon.
“It was irresponsible,” Alexandria Gray said, outside of the paper. “It was an irresponsible perpetuation of racism… And it's quite sad that it's the only print publication in the Franklin County area and they've chosen to use this platform to fear monger."
Shortly after images of the cartoon were posted, Warden and Wood issued an apology, stating they were “DISGUSTED” by the cartoon and that it “does not represent the views of ‘The Missourian’ staff.” They went on to state the image was selected by Editor/Publisher Bill Miller Sr. They then concluded their message with “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.
A couple hours later, their original statement was replaced, and a new message announced their resignation.
“Because we do not have the editorial control to assure our readers that this won’t happen again, we have resigned in protest,” their statement read, in part.
Hours later, Bill Miller Sr. also issued a statement, apologizing.
"I ran a nationally syndicated editorial cartoon in the June 10 edition of The Missourian that was racially insensitive,” he wrote in part. “It was poor judgement on my part and for that I sincerely apologize.”
Now, some are calling for a ban on advertisement.
"I am going to be calling for a boycott of any businesses that choose to still advertise till he steps down," Adrian Wallace said.
Susan and Jeanne have marched in some of the recent protests in Franklin County. The newspaper may be part of the focus at the next planned protest Saturday.