The first black Miss Alabama, Kalyn Chapman James, is under fire for describing the man who shot five Dallas police officers as a “martyr.”
In a Facebook video posted on Sunday, James said she doesn’t want to “feel this way” about the shooter, identified as Micah X. Johnson. “My heart weeps” but she’s dealing with “a bit of guilt because … I don’t feel sad for the officers that lost their lives and I know that’s not really 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,” she said. “I know it’s not the right way to feel.”
“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 added.
James continued: “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 it’s not right and I definitely don’t condone violence against innocent people.”
On social media, including her Facebook page about scholarships, she has received backlash. “I think my money will go to someone who does not intentionally spread more hate. I don’t understand how you could put those thoughts into words, record them and make them public. You probably just got more police officers killed,” wrote one person.
In an update on Tuesday, James clarified her comments after she received threats, harassment, and insults.
1. Micah Johnson is NOT a hero.
2. I do not condone violence against anyone – I am against violence. I would like to see an end to black on black crime, white on white crime, black on white crime, white on black crime, ALL killing needs to stop!
3. I want healing and peace for our nation and it will come when we can process our feelings, address the ones that don’t align with our values (like I did) and reach out for help INSTEAD of causing more conflict or taking innocent lives.
If anyone else wants to join together in peace, healing and love just let me know. Because a cry for help and understanding has turned into a hate fest and only we can stop that. #lovematters #spreadlove
James later said that she felt her comments in the video, namely the part about the Dallas shooter being a “martyr,” were taken out of context by several media outlets.
“I anticipated some feedback but not all this. I guess it goes along with the territory, but journalists have lied and been forgiven so maybe my associates will forgive me if I offended anyone but that wasn’t my goal,” she wrote July 10.
In response to the backlash, James wrote on the page that “people are calling me stupid, ugly, saying beauty queens are fed to apes in Africa, saying i am a poster child for liberals.”
“I am dealing with so many emotions. My husband and I have shed tears watching all of this loss of life…its heart wrenching. And I try to love in spite of this hate,” she continued.
One person wrote: “Black lives matter, cops lives matter, all lives matter,” to which James replied, “Indeed.”
Miss Alabama Pageant, Inc., on Tuesday attempted to distance itself from James’ comments.
“Kalyn Chapman James was Miss Alabama 23 years ago in 1993,” read a statement from the pageant.
“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.”