No matter how many times it’s been repeated that kneeling during or before the national anthem, locking arms or staying in locker rooms is a stance against police brutality and racism and does NOT aim to disrespect the U.S. flag or its armed forces, it seems people still don’t get the message.
The latest spew of insults to the protesters who took a knee has come not from an uninformed member of the public but from a high-ranking member of the Michigan State Police — who should know better.
The director of the Michigan State Police, Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, recently posted a viciously worded message on her Facebook page, targeting athletes who demonstrated their right of freedom of expression during the anthem and called them “a bunch of rich, entitled, arrogant, ungrateful, anti-American degenerates.”
She also ended the post by signing it as “We, the people,” which understandably upset some black law enforcement agents in her department.
Leonard Mungo, a Detroit attorney who has represented troopers in civil dispute with the department, said the post shows “a dangerous mindset for someone in her powerful position.”
However, Shannon Banner, a spokeswoman for Etue, said the director’s post was not about race and was posted only so that her friends could see.
It’s hard to see how it’s not about race since the majority of athletes protesting are people of color, and the entire protest surrounded the systemic, institutionalized racism African Americans face in the U.S.
She also said Etue did not make the post herself but “it’s a meme that is posted in other places around the Internet.”
Is that meant to excuse her actions? Whether Etue created the meme or not, by promoting it, she is admitting she agrees to the sentiments written in it.
The director issued an apology on Tuesday night saying it was a mistake to share the message.
A message from Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue regarding Facebook post: pic.twitter.com/PFjx5reyVI— MSP Public Affairs (@MichStatePolice) September 27, 2017
But she did that only after she suffered backlash from the public. Etue should also know, considering she is a law enforcement officer, that an apology does not fix everything.
She should also have been doubly careful since her department is already under a lot of pressure from protesters who demand justice after 15-year-old Damon Grimes of Detroit died when a state trooper fired a Taser at him, causing the young man to crash his ATV.
The Michigan State Police squad has a history of diversity issues.
In 2015, the Detroit Free Press reported the department turned back toward its culture of predominantly white male hires, 22 years after it was freed from federal oversight for not hiring enough people of color and women.
At that time, there were only 59 black troopers among the 1,134 other members, which was less than half the number the department had when the federal consent decree was lifted.
The article also noted that only 14 of the 430 recruits graduating from the department's six most recent trooper schools had been black.
Since 2015, the department has stepped up its hiring of minorities and women and significantly increased the number of black people graduating from its schools. However, the number of black troopers among Michigan State Police still doesn’t reflect the state’s demographic, where black people represent 14 percent of the population.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters/Andrew Boyers