The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus demanded the resignation of a Michigan State Police director after she dared to defend the military and the American flag.
The 23-member group of lawmakers called on Gov. Rick Snyder to fire Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue if she does not resign on her own, WLNS reported.
Etue apologized following her social media response to the controversy surrounding football players who were taking a knee during the national anthem. She posted on Facebook, calling the NFL players “millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect our armed forces and veterans” and “a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates.”
Players and coaches from coast to coast last weekend took a knee or didn’t even take the field until “The Star Spangled Banner” finished playing, escalating the debate that seemingly has divided the nation and brought stinging criticism from President Trump.
Etue’s message was posted on her personal Facebook page and so could only be seen by those who are friends with her on the site. She defended her protest post on Tuesday, as Progress Michigan called for her to step down.
“When such a high-ranking member of law enforcement feels compelled to share such broad, inaccurate, and shameful comments, their judgment can no longer be trusted to help protect Michigan’s diverse communities,” Lonnie Scott, the organization’s executive director, said. “Let’s set something straight: these protests are not about the flag or about veterans or the military, they are about speaking out against police brutality and injustice in communities of color across America. That is something that law enforcement should take to heart, not use to try to divide us further.”
Etue issued a statement in response.
“It was a mistake to repost this meme on Facebook and I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. I will continue my focus on unity at the Michigan State Police and in communities across Michigan,” she said.
“As a public servant, Col. Etue has great respect for the armed forces and those who fight to protect our freedoms,” a spokeswoman for the colonel told the Detroit Free Press, explaining that Etue’s Facebook post was not about race.
Etue did not create the post, Banner added. “It’s a meme that is posted in other places around the Internet,” she said.
Members of the Michigan Senate debated the controversy on Wednesday with some defending Etue’s post while others called for her resignation.
“It is clear that Col. Etue does not understand the nature of the protests, nor respect the First Amendment rights of protesters,” Democratic Rep. Sheldon Neeley,, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “This calls into question her ability and objectivity to lead the men and women in her department who are charged with not just enforcing laws, but also protecting and serving people of color … She’s not sorry for her position, just that she posted it.”
“How can she can continue to do this job,” Democrat Sen. Vincent Gregory said. “If this had been an everyday officer, they would have been terminated. If we just let this go, what does this say about the state of Michigan, what does it say about the state police?”
But GOP Sen. Rick Jones defended Etue, stating that she has “worked hard for diversity.”
“Now she’s coming under fire for sharing a meme on her private Facebook page. She has the same first amendment rights as do the players who take a knee during the national anthem,” he said.
Michigan’s governor echoed the support of Etue and said her job was not in jeopardy.
“She has served with distinction as an outstanding public servant for decades,” Snyder’s spokeswoman Anna Heaton said. “The Governor will not be asking her to resign.”
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