More than 50,000 members of sent emails to New York Post Publisher Paul Carlucci on Thursday protesting the paper’s decision to run a controversial political cartoon.

Momentum around the petition continued to build Thursday evening as the civil rights organization launched online ads and began outreach on social networking sites. The group expected tens of thousands more emails would be sent through its website by the weekend.

The cartoon depicts the recent stimulus bill’s ‘author’ as a dead monkey, covered in blood after being shot by police. is circulating an online petition that takes The Post to task for its apparent ignorance of a history of racist symbolism that depicts Black people as apes or monkeys. The organization argues that the image is particularly dangerous at a time when hate crimes are on the rise and threats against President Barack Obama abound.

‘The paper’s leaders need to be held accountable, and so far we’ve seen no sign that The Post cares about the thousands of people across the country who are rightly outraged by this cartoon,’ said James Rucker, the organization’s executive director. ‘The next question we have to ask is whether advertisers feel comfortable being associated with a publication that responds so callously to readers’ concerns.’

Rucker also responded to a statement released by The Post late Thursday. ‘The Post’s recent statement about the uproar it has caused with this cartoon insults our intelligence. It acknowledges no mistake while continuing to attack those who are raising serious, legitimate concerns. If The Post thinks they can close the book on this without taking any responsibility, they’re wrong.’

An excerpt of the petition, addressed to Carlucci, reads as follows:

I am writing to ask that you publish an apology. I also ask that whichever editor approved Delonas’ cartoon for publication be fired, whether it was Editorial Page Editor Bob McManus, Editor Col Allan, or another senior manager in the newsroom. I ask that you determine who was responsible and hold that person accountable.

I was particularly concerned by the Post’s sole response to readers who found the image to have racist undertones. The callous statement Col Allan issued Wednesday denies a historical reality, and for him to claim ignorance of this history raises questions about his ability to effectively lead a daily newspaper geared toward a mainstream and multiracial audience.

Please publish an apology that acknowledges that it was a mistake for the Post to publish this cartoon and fire the person responsible.

With more than a half million members, is the largest African-American online political organization in the country.