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Italian-Americans Take Doonesbury Strip to New York Attorney General

June 21, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ A recent ″Doonesbury″ comic strip series ″attacks the fiber″ of Italian-Americans, says the leader of an ethnic coalition who asked the state attorney general to see whether legal action is possible.

The series of strips by cartoonist Garry Trudeau is ″inflammatory to Italo-Americans because it takes a typical Italo-American we’re very proud of - Frank Sinatra - and castigates him,″ William D. Fugazy, president of the Coalition of Italo-American Associations, said Thursday.

What it says is he’s a sort of racketeer and mobster,″ Fugazy said in an interview Thursday night before a monthly meeting of the coalition.

The strips, which linked Sinatra to organized crime figures, ran June 10-16. Some newspapers refused to run them.

″We think this is a prejudice against Italo-Americans. It attacks the fiber of our nationality, of our community,″ said Fugazy. ″I think it could happen to others. It could happen to the Arabs ... or the Jews, or the Irish, or anyone.″

He said the group has taken the matter to Attorney General Robert Abrams, who ″had asked us months ago to give him instances where there was prejudice against Italo-Americans.″

″We’re asking Abrams and possibly other sources to stop any cartoons like this by Trudeau,″ Fugazy said.

He said he would also ask Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., and others in Congress ″to use their influence with the media to see that this isn’t repeated.″

Asked what action he thought the attorney general could take, Fugazy said, ″It’s a very tough position what to do. ... If it’s a lawsuit, it doesn’t involve Abrams. If it’s a restraining order you have to know it’s going to appear again. It certainly is not an indictable crime, but it’s something we should do.″

″Doonesbury″ is syndicated to 835 clients around the country by Universal Press Syndicate, which last week defended the strip, saying it believed ″most people understand the strip deals with satire, humor and commentary.″

Sinatra’s lawyers this week asked the syndicate for a list of its subscribers so they could seek retractions in individual newspapers. The syndicate refused.

The CIAA describes itself as a non-partisan, non-political umbrella group for 110 Italian-American groups, with a combined membership in New York state of 750,000.

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