Media owner and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Julian Willock has labelled some residents of the BVI as ‘fake’ for not lashing out at local newspaper, Island Sun, who he claims published a “similar cartoon” to the one posted on his website, Virgin Islands News Online (VINO).
For more than a week now, VINO has been displaying a cartoon of Governor Augustus Jaspert kneeling on the neck of talkshow host Claude Skelton Cline in reference to the killing of George Floyd, who died during a police arrest in the United States on May 25.
In its June 13 publication, the Island Sun published a cartoon of a man watching a TV. Pictured on the TV screen was the real-life image of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
“Look at a similar cartoon in this week’s Island Sun but not a word from these fake people in the BVI,” Willock said in a WhatsApp message he forwarded to two BVI News affiliates on Sunday night, June 21.
“It tells me they only have strength for VINO. Too many local oppressors! We stand with VINO because of the hypocrisy,” he added.
Backlash and boycotts
The ‘hypocrisy’ to which Willock referred is in relation to the public backlash his news site has been receiving since posting the cartoon, which they continue to exhibit.
Subsequent calls for advertisers to boycott the news site has seen telecommunications companies CCT and Digicel suspending and ceasing advertising.
In a post on its Instagram page last Tuesday, June 16, Digicel said it deems the cartoon “offensive” and contacted VINO to express disapproval and to remove the post.
“We will be ceasing advertising with the media house for the time being,” Digicel added.
VINO and the governor
Governor Jaspert also responded on the 16th describing the cartoon as disturbing and grossly offensive.
The Willock-owned website responded a day later stating that they found it “curious and questionable that a sitting governor … has the time to comment about a cartoon”.
In the meantime, management of the site previously sought to distance Willock from the cartoon, adding that VINO rejects acts of racism. It had created the cartoon after Skelton Cline said Governor Jaspert has his figurative knee on the necks of Virgin Islanders.