“I don’t feel sad for the officers that lost their lives.”
About 45 seconds into a video posted live on Facebook over the weekend, Kalyn Chapman James, the first African American woman crowned Miss Alabama, spoke those words. For James, it was an excruciating confession to make about her reaction to the sniper attack in Dallas last week that claimed the lives of five police officers and injured seven more. James added that she was feeling extremely conflicted about the shootings that led up to the Dallas attack, and that “I value human life” as she fought back tears. “I want to feel sad for them,” she said.
Her confession went even further when she discussed the man who carried out the attack, Micah Xavier Johnson. Johnson, a former Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, was killed by a robot bomb after an hours-long standoff with police last Thursday evening. “I can’t help but feel the shooter was a martyr,” James told her Facebook followers. “And I know it’s not the right way to feel because nobody deserves to lose their lives, and I know those police officers had families.”
James, who grew up in Alabama, was crowned Miss Alabama in 1993 and now lives in Miami, went on to say that the sentiment she was expressing was more widespread in the black community than many might think at a glance. “I am so torn up in my heart about seeing these men, these black men being gunned down in our community. I wasn’t surprised by what the shooter did to those cops, and I think a lot of us feel the same way,” she said.
James’ comments sparked a backlash resulting in her suspension from a TV station in Miami, where she works as a contractor. The Miss Alabama organization also disavowed her remarks. She issued a statement to AL.com clarifying her position, saying, “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.” But she stood by her initial remarks about Johnson being a martyr. “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,” James said in the statement.
Watch her complete video below. It had amassed more than 320,000 views before James removed the post from her Facebook page on Tuesday morning, and it had drawn ire from commenters, many of whom posted stinging responses, often straying far off-the topic. The video has subsequently been re-posted on James’ Facebook page and posted on YouTube as well, and can be viewed below.
James shared screen shots of a sampling of the comments she’s been inundated with. Some are supportive, like one woman who said she “broke down” while watching the video. Others simply focused on her looks and made nasty remarks about her hair.
Later Tuesday, as commenters’ invective escalated, James addressed the response her initial video post triggered. She said she’s been “threatened, harassed and called awful names,” and said that she does not view Micah Johnson, the Dallas gunman as a hero, and that she doesn’t condone violence in any form and called for more healing and love.
Read the full story at USA Today.