Can’t Breathe in the Wind from Tom Racine on Vimeo.

 

WHEN NEWS BROKE this week of the decision not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July death of Eric Garner, visual commentators working on deadline reached for familiar symbols.

And so there, in editorial cartoon after cartoon, we soon saw the figure commonly called Lady Justice (or Justitia, or Blind Justice), sometimes felled — strikingly similar to how she was invoked just days earlier, immediately after the no-indictment decision for the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.:

AFTER THE NYPD/GARNER DECISION:


BILL BRAMHALL / New York Daily News

 

DAYS EARLIER, AFTER THE FERGUSON/BROWN DECISION:


STEVE BENSON (The Republic, Arizona)

 

Some critics consider turning to such familiar symbols a lazy form of artistic response, but that’s too simple a critique to hurl. On deadline, in the immediate aftermath, reaching for a visual symbol pre-imbued with commonly recognized power can be useful — as long as that symbol is used in the service of some new and specific twist (such as Justice holding the Eric Garner video before jurors, or the Statue of Liberty dissected):

 


MATT DAVIES (Newsday)

MIKE LUCKOVICH (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

 


MICHAEL RAMIREZ (Investors Business Daily)

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DARRIN BELL (WPWG)

[DARRIN BELL: From Ferguson to New York cases, “Candorville" cartoonist draws deeply from the personal (Q&A)]

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The second distinction to make is that as a case like the Eric Garner decision becomes a “second-day” story (and then going forward), cartoon commentators need to reach deeper, toward the more specific, and the more original, and the more probing. How do they advance the national discussion? And so we have seen smart cartoonists dig and create and invent (even as other cartoonists reached for too-easy monolithic caricatures, such as regarding race).

Here are some of the more striking second-wave Eric Garner cartoons to appear this week — as editorial cartoonists continue to distinguish themselves with more distinctive takes:

 


by STEVE BREEN (U-T San Diego)

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NICK ANDERSON (Houston Chronicle)
NICK ANDERSON (Houston Chronicle)

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JEN SORENSEN (courtesy of JenSorensen.com/Universal Uclick)
JEN SORENSEN (courtesy of JenSorensen.com)

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MATT BORS (courtesy of Universal Uclick)

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by RUBEN BOLLING (Universal UClick)

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[SEE: 15 Cartoons on the #Ferguson news]