“I can’t stop replaying the image of these men being killed in my mind and my heart weeps, but I think more than anything I’m dealing with a bit of guilt because,” she said, pausing to cry.
“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.”
The comments from James — who in 1993 became the first black woman to win the title of Miss Alabama — sparked backlash and prompted her employer, Miami’s PBS affiliate, to place her on administrative leave.
“WPBT2 South Florida PBS does not condone the personal statements made by one of its independent contractors regarding the events in Dallas,” the station said in a statement Monday. “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.”
A Friday-night installment of “Art Loft” — described by WPBT2 as “a weekly 30-minute art program showcasing the local artists, exhibitions, performances, and arts organizations that are positioning South Florida as an emerging leader in the world of art” — remained on the station’s schedule as of Wednesday morning.
The Miss Alabama organization has also distanced itself from James, noting that it’s been nearly a quarter century since she was crowned. “The opinions she expressed are her own, and do not represent the viewpoint of the current Miss Alabama or the Miss Alabama Organization,” Nan Teninbaum, president of the organization, said in a statement.
In her Facebook video, James said:
I know it’s not right to feel that because nobody deserves to lose their lives, and I know those police officers have families and people who love 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 communities that I can’t help but feel like — 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, but I’m sick of this.
Since the video went viral, James said on Facebook that she is “being threatened, harassed and called awful names.”
Of the Dallas gunman, she said: “Micah Johnson is NOT a hero.”
“I do not condone violence against anyone — I am against violence,” she wrote. “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!”
She continued: “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.”
In an interview with WPMI, the NBC affiliate in her hometown of Mobile, James said she was troubled at the time of her first Facebook Live video and was reaching out for support.
“Maybe ‘martyr’ wasn’t the right word, but it was what came to mind at that time,” she said.
James told the station that the wife of a Dallas police officer has since contacted her.
“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.