Congressman calls for Mich. State Police director's removal over NFL comments

Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said on Facebook that athletes who kneel during the national anthem are “anti-American degenerates”

By Todd Spangler
Detroit Free Press

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. John Conyers has called for Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue to step down or be fired over a post on Facebook that said athletes who kneel during the national anthem are “anti-American degenerates.”

Conyers' office confirmed to the Free Press that he was calling for Etue's ouster despite his putting out a statement that did not directly say she should be fired or resign.

In that statement, however, Conyers, D-Detroit, said Michigan needed a state police director "who understands the very real issue of racial injustice" and can work with African-American communities to improve relations rather than bashing protesters.

 Conyers said if Etue "cannot complete that mission, she should stand down.”

Conyers' remarks came as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans chastised Etue's post as well, saying it showed "a lack of respect for the people she serves and the post she holds." They stopped short of calling for her to be removed, however. 

Conyers' office, after sending out a statement in a news release titled, "Michigan Needs a New State Police Director," made clear that he wants her to go, despite the ambiguity of the statement itself.

Conyers made the statement two days after it was revealed that Etue had shared a private Facebook message that led to several calls for her resignation or dismissal.

Etue has apologized for the remark but Conyers — a civil rights icon who worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and employed Rosa Parks in his district office for years — called the Facebook post “completely inappropriate” and “unbefitting an officer of the state of Michigan.”

Conyers — who is also the longest-serving active member of Congress and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees law enforcement matters across the U.S. —  added that the post “raise(s) practical concerns about her ability to enforce the laws of our state and country.”

“Michigan needs a Michigan State Police director who understands the very real issue of racial injustice and the blatant disparities that African-Americans face within our criminal justice system and at the hands of some ill-willed law enforcement officers,” Conyers said. “Instead of bashing the protests, Etue should be looking to address the reason for the protests in the first place, by working with the Michigan police force and the communities they protect and serve to improve relations.”

Etue’s Facebook post came as NFL owners and players reacted strongly to President Donald Trump’s statements that players who kneel in protest of violence against African-Americans during the playing of the National Anthem be fired.

The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality are among the groups that have called for Etue’s resignation or firing. Gov. Rick Snyder has rejected calls for Etue’s dismissal. 

©2017 the Detroit Free Press

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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