The first black woman to hold the title of Miss Alabama posted a tearful message Sunday calling Dallas cop killer Micah Xavier Johnson a “martyr.”
“I don’t want to feel this way,” Ms. James said into the camera. “I’m dealing with a bit of guilt because I don’t feel sad for the officers that lost their lives, and I know that that’s not really my heart. I value human life, and I want to feel sad for them, but I can’t help but [feel] like the shooter was a martyr. And I know it’s not the right way to feel, because nobody deserves to lose their lives and I know that those police officers had families and people who loved them and that they didn’t deserve to die.”
“But I’m so torn up in my heart about seeing these men, these black men, being gunned down in our community that I can’t help,” she continued, sobbing. “I wasn’t surprised by what the shooter did to those cops, and I think a lot of us feel the same way.”
“I know that it’s not right, and I definitely don’t condone violence, but I’m sick of this,” she said. “I’m sick of this, and something has to be done, period.”
“My heart and my mind were conflicted because these are difficult and very emotional times for so many people,” her statement said in part. “I went to church to address my feelings and deal with them from a perspective of forgiveness and love. Especially forgiving myself for feeling that way.
“These are raw wounds that are fresh and, while I apologize if I offended anyone, I cannot help the way I feel as I continue to process these events and deal with the flood of emotions that come from witnessing such atrocities — both against citizens and officers of the law,” she said. “The fact that my opinion was considered newsworthy makes me feel like speaking up was exactly what I should do, because I can voice what so many people are feeling and dealing with and they should know they are not alone. I reiterate that I do not condone violence or killing at all. I offer my deepest condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones this week, including the officers in Dallas.”
A lone gunman attacked a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas Thursday night, killing five police officers and wounding seven officers. The rally was in response to the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota earlier in the week.
Ms. James‘ employer, the South Florida PBS affiliate WPBT, said in a statement Monday night that she had been suspended.
“WPBT2 South Florida PBS does not condone the personal statements made by one of its independent contractors regarding the events in Dallas,” the statement said. “It placed the contractor on administrative leave while it actively and carefully looks further into the matter and will determine additional course of actions based on its thorough review of the matter.”
“I do wish that I hadn’t used [that word] in my video,” she said. “I only used the word in the context of a person who feels like they’re dying for something they believe in. What [Johnson] did was wrong. … He is not a hero. I feel like that’s what he thought he was. But no, he’s not a hero to me. I don’t condone what he did.”
She also defended her decision to keep her video online.
“As long as people know that that video is just an expression of my sadness and anger and hurt, and that it is not a call to incite more violence, then I’m fine with the video being there,” she said. “I’m not a racist. I feel like people regardless of their race, they should feel safe in the streets.”
The Miss Alabama organization responded to the controversy in a statement Tuesday.
“Kalyn Chapman James was Miss Alabama 23 years ago in 1993,” the statement said. “The opinions she expressed are her own, and do not represent the viewpoint of the current Miss Alabama or the Miss Alabama Organization. We have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for the men and women of law enforcement, and would never condone violence of any kind.”
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