Image of noose in Pamlico County newspaper leads to backlash

PAMLICO COUNTY, NC (WITN) A startling image in The County Compass newspaper in Pamlico County has members of the community speaking out about the racial undertones it depicts.

A startling image in The County Compass newspaper in Pamlico County has members of the community speaking out about the racial undertones it depicts.

An image of a noose was used by the newspaper in its weekly column about President Trump, and while they're saying it was a honest mistake, some say they have their doubts.

The picture of the noose included the words, "If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again."

"I saw this in the paper and I thought it was ludicrous, and racist and real out of touch with America," explained Douglas Pearsall, the President of the Pamlico County branch of the NAACP.

The picture of a noose left many African-Americans in Pamlico County pained by the memories the image recalls.

"I've been struggling with these things for over 70-years and to re-surface right here in Pamlico County, with what my forefathers have gone through, this is outrageous," Pearsall added.

Editor of The County Compass, Jeff Aydelette, says they run a weekly column called the "Trump Report Card." He felt they needed a strong image to stand with the narrative of last week's piece.

But Aydelette says he had no knowledge of the possible undertone, until an African-American friend reached out.

"She sent me a text and said 'Jeff, I'm disappointed," he admitted.

Aydellette says use of the hurtful image was solely his responsibility.

"My use of that, my condonement of that is a mistake and I sincerely apologize."

The newspaper plans to run a front-page apology in Thursday's edition, an act that may be too late for some.

"The damage is already done. It's just like throwing something out there, you can't pull it back," Pearsall said.

And as community members of all races continue to reach out, Aydelette says they will strive to do better.

"Many of us know him personally, we're casual friends as a matter of a fact, and I plan to give him exactly my opinion," said Enrique Garcia, a Pamlico County community member.

Some community members also expressed concerns with a weekly piece called Preserve Our Southern Heritage that they say often shows images of Confederate flags and other controversial images. Some say they do plan to boycott the paper after this latest mistake.

The County Compass is free, and has 20,000 subscribers between Pamlico, Craven, Carteret, Jones and Beaufort Counties. Aydelette says as of this week they have not lost any subscribers or advertisers.