Mary Engelbreit Faces Backlash Over Ferguson Illustration

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ferguson_embedPhoto: via maryengelbreit.
The means by which we cope with tragedy and distress are as diverse as we are. For illustrator Mary Engelbreit, it's drawing.

In light of events surrounding the death of Michael Brown and the protests in Ferguson, Engelbreit created a print she titled "In The USA." It depicts a mother and child, drawn in Engelbreit's typical chubby style, grieving. The paper before them has "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" printed across it, a reference to the popular call to arms of the protestors in the small St. Louis suburb. The little boy in the illustration mimics the action, raising his hands above his head.

Engelbreit, who is a St. Louis native, promised to donate 100% of the print's sales to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund. Despite this, however, Facebook momentarily removed the post because it was deemed offensive, Engelbreit said on her page. Negative comments on the post called for her to "please draw a card that also shows stealing and intimidating store clerks" and that her illustration ignored the bind law enforcement is in.

Thankfully, the positive comments outnumber the negative, and the Facebook announcement was reposted.

"If anyone uses words like 'thug' or 'animal' or any other derogatory words to describe their fellow human beings, their comment will be deleted," Engelbreit wrote after her work reappeared. "That’s not free speech, that’s hate speech, and you can go pedal your hatred and bigotry on someone else’s Facebook page."

An 11-x-14 print is available to order here. It might not be your typical, everyday successory that hangs in your entryway, but it's an important reminder of what's going on in the real world. (artnet)