FRIDAY, Nov. 11 — Vandals painted “Fuck U” on the front of City Pulse’s office building a day after the paper reported a dispute with Lansing City Council President Judi Brown Clarke and her husband, District Judge Hugh Clarke, over their contention that this week’s cover of City Pulse is racist.
An image that appears to be a swastika was also painted on the front door of the house next door. City Pulse formerly occupied the first floor as offices and still has signage in front of the house and on the door.
The Clarkes contended that City Pulse deliberately darkened the cover’s caricature of Judi Brown Clarke, who is African American, in its cover on the upcoming Lansing mayor’s race. Clarke is considering running.
In an online story yesterday, Schwartz said the cover appeared darker than usual. He said it appeared to him to have been over-inked on the press, which City Pulse doesn’t control.
Moreover, the artist — who is an African American — said he deliberately made the entire cover darker for effect and for technical reasons. He said he also thought it printed even darker than he had intended.
“If it was perceived in any other offensive way, then I’m truly sorry,” sad the artist, Brandon Hankins. “I’ve spent my life studying African images in cartoons, and I’m kind of brokenhearted at this reaction, even if it’s an overreaction.”
Schwartz said he believes the defacement is related to the controversy over the cover.
Schwartz said Judge Clarke called him to complain on Wednesday, the day the paper came out. He said the judge dismissed his explanation that the entire cover was darker than intended. He claimed that the paper had made his wife look like a “Sambo,” a derogatory term for African Americans stemming from the children’s book “The Story of Little Black Sambo.”
“When the judge made that ridiculous charge, and after he refused to hear my explanation, I lost it and told him to ‘go fuck yourself’ and hung up. It happened because I was outraged at being called a racist.
“I apologize to the judge for my language, but now, in light of this hate crime, the Clarkes need to step up and tell their friends and supporters they made a mistake and that the cover isn’t racist.”
Schwartz said he has received emails from people who said they know the Clarkes. He said they made reference to his salty remark to Judge Clarke, which is why he sees a connection between the controversy and the expletive painted on the front of the building.
“The Clarkes need to stop telling people this was racist, which hopefully will defuse the situation.”