By TIM REYNOLDS | The Associated PressJACKSONVILLE, Fla.
(AP) An online newspaper in Jacksonville has taken the unusual step of banning a columnist who has been criticized for comments critical of the city’s police force.
The Jacksonville Times-Union on Thursday published an editorial criticizing an online columnist who it said was too critical of police in his columns and said it was “proud” that the paper would take a stand against his comments.
The newspaper said the decision to ban the columnist, who has worked for The Times-Times in Jacksonville since 2009, was “not taken lightly” and that the newspaper will continue to hold its readers accountable for his actions.
The Times Union has a policy against posting any content that would “threaten or incite violence or any other type of harm.”
The editorial came after an Aug. 18 article in the paper, which is owned by the Jacksonville City Council, said the city police force has “an appalling history of brutality, discrimination and police misconduct.”
It was posted on the website of the newspaper and has been widely shared on social media.
The newspaper said in a statement that the columnist has been disciplined for the “lack of journalistic integrity” in his column, but has since apologized and apologized for the editorial, which it said it took out of context.
The editorial said the columnist “had a very narrow focus and focused on a specific topic and his opinions and opinions are not reflective of Jacksonville’s community of people of color and all people.”
The newspaper also noted that the city of Jacksonville is a city that has a history of racial violence.
It said the author of the article is African-American.
The editorial, written by James C. D’Amato, was published in the newspaper’s online version and on the newspaper Web site.
The paper said it also had published a follow-up editorial criticizing the columnist.
“It is not our place to be judgmental about what a person of color thinks or believes, but we cannot stand by and allow this type of behavior to be tolerated,” the newspaper said.
The mayor, Jack Seiler, said he was “thrilled” with the editorial and that he was pleased with the newspaper taking a stand.
“I am very proud that the Jacksonville Times Union will not tolerate such behavior,” Seiler said in an email to The Associated White House.
“It is an outrage that this type and tone of rhetoric is being tolerated.”
Seiler has been in the news for several controversial comments since becoming mayor in June.
In July, he called for the federal government to use the death penalty against the convicted killer of a Jacksonville man, Aaron Hernandez, who is serving life without parole.