An emotional Facebook Live video recorded Sunday by former Miss Alabama Kalyn Chapman James has led to a suspension from her place of employment and created a debate over her comments that used the word "martyr" to describe Dallas police sniper Micah Johnson.
“I don’t feel sad for the officers that lost their lives. And 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 and I know it’s not the right way to feel 'cause nobody deserves to lose their lives,” James said in the video that she recorded after leaving church Sunday.
James' comments come in the wake of last week's deaths of two black men at the hands of police. Alton Sterling was killed in Louisiana and Philando Castile was killed in Minnesota. On Thursday as activists took part in a peaceful protest about the cases in Dallas, Johnson opened fire, killing five police officers. The U.S. military veteran told officials he specifically targeted white officers in an act of revenge for the two slain black men.
In the video that has since gone viral, James discussed her feelings after all three of the incidents. “I think a lot of us feel the same way and I know it’s not right and I definitely don’t condone violence, but I’m sick of this,” James said.
PBS’s Miami affiliate placed James, who in 1993 became the first black woman to win the Miss Alabama title, on administrative leave from the “Art Loft” program she hosts on WPBT2, the Washington Post reported.
“WPBT2 South Florida does not condone the personal statements made by one of its independent contractors regarding the events in Dallas,” a statement from the station said Monday.
Since the release of the video, James has said she was not condoning violence. “What Micah did was wrong period. Maybe 'martyr' wasn’t the right word but it was what came to mind at the time,” she told a local Alabama station Monday.
James has reported being threatened and harassed since the release of the video.