Former Miss Alabama Kalyn Chapman James is facing backlash and threats after calling the Dallas shooter a ‘martyr’ in a controversial Facebook Live video on Sunday, July 10.
In the video, James — who was the first black woman to be crowned Miss Alabama in 1993 — tearfully explains why she sympathizes with Micah Xavier Johnson, who shot and killed five police officers and wounded nine others during a Black Lives Matter protest on Thursday, July 7.
“I’m dealing with a bit of guilt because I don’t feel sad for the officers that lost their lives,” she said. “I know that that’s really not my heart. I value human life. And I want to feel sad for them, but I can’t help but feeling like the shooter was a martyr.”
The TV host went on to say that she “wasn’t surprised” by the cops’ deaths, and she was upset and frustrated by the recent deaths of black men by police, including Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. “I know it’s not the right way to feel, because nobody deserves to lose their lives. I know that those police officers had families and people who loved them and that they didn’t deserve to die,” she said of officers Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa and Brent Thompson. “But I’m 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 and I know that it’s not right … I definitely don’t condone violence against innocent people.”
While some commenters thanked her for expressing her opinion, James has received major backlash on social media. She told WPMI that she’s even received threats. One of the wives of a Dallas police officer reached out to her as well. “She said that she watched my video and she wasn’t mad, she understood what I was saying and that she forgave me,” James said.
James also offered an apology to WPMI, saying she “apologize[s] to anyone who was offended by my comments — my heart was not filled with hate.”
It seems her employer, Miami TV station WPBT2, has placed her on leave for her controversial comments. “We do not condone any suggestion that terrorism is acceptable or that it should be tolerated,” WPBT2 said in a statement on Twitter. “WPBT2 South Florida PBS does not condone the personal statements made by one of its independent contractors regarding the events in Dallas. 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.”
The Miss Alabama pageant operators released a statement to AL.com, saying 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.”